PHILADELPHIA, January 14, 2010 – – State Sen. Larry Farnese and Philadelphia breast cancer specialists today urged Congress to keep mammogram funding intact as the national health care debate moves forward.

Farnese criticized a recent study by the United States Preventative Services Task Force that stated that women in their 40s do not need a mammogram and that self-examinations hold no value. Farnese has introduced a Senate resolution urging Congress not to follow this recommendation.

“Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death among Pennsylvania women, and it is imperative that it is caught early,” Farnese said. “By waiting until women reach 50 years of age before they have a mammogram, we take the chance of reversing the decade-long decline in deaths caused by breast cancer.”

Farnese was joined at Thomas Jefferson University news conference by Dr. Barbara C. Cavanaugh, director of Breast Imaging, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital; Dr. Gordon F. Schwartz, director of the Jefferson Breast Care Center; Leslie Stiles, executive director of the Pennsylvania Commission for Women; Elizabeth Goldfield of Susan G. Komen for the Cure; and Dr. Jennifer Chalfin Simmons, director of the Breast Health Program, Aria Health Care System.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers. The chance of developing invasive breast cancer at some time in a woman’s life is a little less than 1 in 8 (12%).

In 2009, the ACS estimated that about 40,170 women would die from breast cancer.

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