Changes over breast cancer screenings are becoming quite controvercial by some, even saying that the effects of the proposed health care reform is already taking shape. So what exactly are the changes?
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
- The USPSTF recommends against teaching breast self-examination (BSE).
- The USPSTF recommends against routine screening mammography in women aged 40 to 49 years.
- The USPSTF recommends biennial screening mammography for women aged 50 to 74 years.
American Cancer Society Responds to Changes to USPSTF Mammography Guidelines
Below is a statement from Otis W. Brawley, M.D., chief medical officer, American Cancer Society.“The American Cancer Society continues to recommend annual screening using mammography and clinical breast examination for all women beginning at age 40. Our experts make this recommendation having reviewed virtually all the same data reviewed by the USPSTF, but also additional data that the USPSTF did not consider. When recommendations are based on judgments about the balance of risks and benefits, reasonable experts can look at the same data and reach different conclusions.”
For more of the statement, please click here.
Making Sense of New Mammography Recommendations
That fact that the USPSTF and the American Cancer Society now have different screening recommendations for women in their 40s simply reinforces the importance of educating yourself about the potential risks and benefits of screening, talking with your physician, and making the decision that’s right for you. This point is highlighted by the USPSTF, which notes “The decision to start regular, biennial screening mammography before the age of 50 years should be an individual one and take patient context into account, including the patient’s values regarding specific benefits and harms.”
My Personal Story
Fourteen years ago, at the age of 36, my mother was performing a self breast exam and found a lump. The worst thing a woman could find while doing an exam. Some of the most horrifying thoughts raced through her mind, only to be confirmed in a few weeks. That’s right. She had full on, heavily advanced stage breast cancer. The operation soon followed with a radical mastectomy, and chemo appointments soon filled her schedule. Fast forward through nine horrible years of cancer, having lost half of her intestines, and being bed-riden, she lost her life. At the age of 45, my mother passed away from breast cancer. She was a healthy person. She ate well. She was slightly active. However, the breast cancer didn’t care about any of that.
Ultimately, people will say these new guidelines aren’t all that bad. Then they will try to throw statistics at you. All you need to know, male and female, is to check yourself. Educate yourself on the proper way to perform a self breast exam. Husbands, help remind your spouse. Wives, help remind your spouse. The two of you could even help eachother.
Do not rely on someone else to do everything for you. Take an active role with your lives.