Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mammography Controversy

Hi Ladies,
Before we even start this discussion I have to give my opinion because I feel so strongly about this subject.  Mammograms should start at the age of 40!!!  But my opinion is not shared by all,  believe it or not.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended that mammogram studies should begin at the age of 50 not 40!  I am confused as to what they are saying.  I believe that The USPSTF is saying that women should not start getting ROUTINE mammograms until the age of 50.  What are they talking about???  I think they mean that if you are not at high risk for breast cancer than it is safe to start screening at 50.  I say that is crazy!  There are so many women who are not at high risk to develop breast cancer and they still do.  So what if these women (I am one of them) waited until the age of 50 to start screening but their breast cancer started at age 41.  Then what????  STUPID GUIDELINES.  And then from what I understand the USPSTF has also stated that when a women reaches 50 the recommendation is to get a mammography every 1 to 2 years.  Again......what are they thinking???  You must get a mammography every year.  And I believe that you should also get a breast sonogram as well.  The USPSTF states that the decision is an individual one based on benefits and harms of a mammography.  I believe that the benefits far outweigh any harms!  I do believe that 99 percent of women would agree with this.
And yet another guideline from the USPSTF.  They are also recommending against the benefit of teaching self breast examination.  How can they give these guidelines?  So many lives have been saved by women finding lumps in their own breasts.  The USPSTF states that unnecessary biopsies are performed because women discover lumps.  I say that women can handle getting these biopsies if they are lifesaving and what a relief to get one (as I have had many) to find out that your breast lump is benign.  Yes, there is some unnecessary anxiety associated with having biopsies that turn out to be benign, but what a lifesaver if your breast lump turns out to be malignant.  What a wonderful thing to be able to get a biopsy and start early treatment.
  Why is my opinion so strong?  When I was 45 I was diagnosed with intraductal carcinoma which is considered Stage 0 breast cancer.  I was soooo lucky.  I had a lumpectomy with six weeks of daily radiation, except for Saturday and Sunday and also one day off for Thanksgiving.  I also took Tamoxifen  for five years.  If I did not start getting mammograms and sonograms starting at age 40 then I wouldn't be here today because chances are that the cancer would have spread beyond the milk ducts.  I will say that I had a history of fibroadenomas.    I have had multiple surgeries to remove multiple tumors.  Thank G-D all benign except for calcifications in my right breast when I was 45.   I had had no prior family history of breast cancer.

P.S. The American Cancer Society,  Susan G. Komen for the Cure,  and the Avon Foundation for Women still agree that mammography screening should begin at age 40.

I believe that breast cancer screening should definitely start at 40 years old and it should be done every year.  What is your opinion?

1 comment:

  1. I feel strongly that women need to be in charge of their own health care. Historically tests were performed on men & often women were considered 'the same'. Obviously we are not the same. Drugs were quickly approved for "women's medical problems" without enough research. Remember DES babies or this gardisol vaccine that has become controversial. I cannot understand why anyone would say not to do self exams at ANY age. Each 1 of us is responsible to know our own bodies. If you touch yourself anywhere you know what is normal for you. If you feel something or see something (skin cancer?) that wasn't there before you know to check it out. The logic in advising not to do self exams seems to be another effort to keep medical costs down; i just cannot think of another reason. I had my first mammogram at 20 years old b/c I felt a lump. It was cystic breasts. It scared the shit out of me & in those days you didn't get results so fast,the machines were scary & so primitive compared to today. A few years later "they" came out with reports that women under 30 or certainly in their late teens or early 20s should not get mammograms due to some concerns about radiation. From that experience I have never just relied on what the AMA or similar organizations recommend. More recently just when I was in the midst of menopause "they" came out with a report that women should not use hormone replacement therapy. My dr. still recommended it but I was not inclined to take it based on my own thoughts about what I put in my body. I am past menopause & am glad I did not use hrt. Elyse, you have hit a nerve & I could go on for hours about how I feel about modern medicine and in particular how women have been not only neglected but put at risk by the very people we trusted to keep us healthy in a multitude of ways which I cannot list here. So get your mammograms & if you're lucky your sonograms (they don't seem to want to do sonograms; probably has something to do with money)when you want them. The scary part is that women without money may not be able to get tests if we don't have adequate, affordable health care.


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