(CNN) - Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz criticized an influential health panel's new guidelines recommending that women get mammograms less frequently, calling some of the findings "disturbing" and "patronizing."
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, an independent group of health care experts, issued new guidelines on Tuesday recommending that women in their 40s not get routine mammograms, and refrain from doing regular self exams. Part of the reason, one panel member told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, is to prevent women from worrying too much about having cancer.
"The harms of screening is what we call the false positives," Lucy Marion, the dean of the school of nursing at the Medical College of Georgia said. "In other words, women will have unnecessary worry about cancer. They may have unnecessary biopsy. In some cases they may have more radiation than healthy for them, though in most cases, that's a minor problem. But there are those harms, and we weigh those harms with the benefits of the few women that would benefit from that."
Wasserman Schultz, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 41 and said she found it though a self-exam, introduced a bill in March to teach even younger women about early detection. She said on Tuesday that women need to get more information to make educated decisions about their health care.
"To assume that women armed with more information about their own breast health would simply get hysterical and have anxiety and not know what to do and not make a sound decision in consultation with their health care professional is patronizing," Wasserman Schultz, a Florida Democrat, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "We need to make sure that women get more information, not less, and make sure that women are screened because we know that early detection and screening saves lives."
This panel's findings in the past have been used by insurance companies to decide what to cover. Wasserman Schultz said the fear is that they may drop their coverage of routine exams.
"It's right when we're trying to reform our health care system, change it from a sick care system to one focused on prevention," she said. "This task force is recommending women 40 to 49 years old don't have preventive screenings to potentially detect breast cancer and insurance companies could start to use that as standard practice for coverage decisions."