The US government Wednesday distanced itself from a report that has sparked off an outcry here after it recommended that women under 50 should not be routinely screened for breast cancer.
The doctors and scientists on the US Preventive Services Task Force which issued the report "do not set federal policy and they don't determine what services are covered by the federal government," Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.
"The Task Force has presented some new evidence for consideration but our policies remain unchanged," she said.
She urged American women to "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."
The task force issued a report Monday recommending that breast cancer screening in women should start at the age of 50, as opposed to 40 as has been the case for many years in the United States.
It further said that women between the ages of 50 to 74 should be screened every two years instead of annually.
Some 210,000 American women are affected by breast cancer every year which claims some 40,000 lives annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.