The end of 2009 signaled four years without my mom.
The end of 2009 also signaled something else…..a change in recommendations when it came to women and mammograms.
The U S Preventive Services Task Force in a nutshell said:
- Screening mammograms should be done every two years beginning at age 50 for women at average risk of breast cancer.
- Recommends against teaching women to do breast self-exams.
Some of the concerns….false-positives, needless anxiety and stress, etc.
BUT…..the recommendations have not been supported by the Mayo Clinic, Susan G Komen for the Cure, or the American Cancer Society.
They say keep the age at 40.
I’ve read a lot during the last few years. Losing your mom suddenly can make you an “expert”, although I’m not a doctor and don’t pretend to be. Everything I’ve read indicates that breast cancer can be quite aggressive in younger patients. Just one of the many reasons not to up the age to 50. It might not get caught early enough without a mammogram. If it’s not caught early enough………well, let’s just say everyone should have a fighting chance.
If getting mammograms starting at age 40 saved just one person. If finding a lump during a self examination saved just one person. That one person is someone special. She’s someone’s child, wife, mother, sister. (Although breast cancer doesn’t discriminate and it could be someone’s son, father, brother, husband).
My mom started getting regular mammograms early on. She’d had biopsies before when I was younger…..always benign. No big deal. Til the day it was a big deal and she called me at work. Doctors estimated that the tumor had been there for 5 years. Wow. It was still small and she was early stage…..and 5 years!
Mammograms obviously aren’t perfect. We need better technology….that’s a given. Digital mammograms are better….and more and more facilities are getting this technology. It’s clear we need more….a blood test would be nice. BUT, until then, mammograms are a major screening tool.
Because of my family history, I had my first mammogram in my 30’s, and have gotten one each year since.
BUT most people who get breast cancer DO NOT have a family history of breast cancer.
I’m not going to lie and say mammograms are fun. Yes, going in causes a bit of anxiety. Obviously. Waiting for the results causes a bit of anxiety too. BUT, it’s worth it. It’s worth it if I get good news. It’s also worth it if, God forbid, one day something is spotted…….I can take action.
BASELINE: Even if you don’t want to get screening mammograms until age 50, consider getting what’s called a baseline mammogram. Get one done so that you and doctors have something to compare against….just in case. You can even request copies of your own digital mammogram….many will supply these to you for a small fee. That way you can have a copy of it in case you move or don’t remember where you got your baseline at.
JOIN IN: What do you think?
(NOTE: I’m certainly not in the medical field and this post contains my personal opinions. Please talk to your health care professional if you have any questions or concerns about breast cancer screening options or breast cancer in general.)