WASHINGTON (CNN) - A federal advisory board's recommendation that women in their 40s should avoid routine mammograms is not government policy and has caused "a great deal of confusion," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday.
"My message to women is simple. Mammograms have always been an important life-saving tool in the fight against breast cancer, and they still are today," Sebelius said in a statement.
"Keep doing what you have been doing for years - talk to your doctor about your individual history, ask questions and make the decision that is right for you."
Sebelius waded into the controversy over Monday's announcement by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that women in their 40s should not get routine mammograms for early detection of breast cancer.