Just as I suspected, 50 is the new 40. And not a moment too late—I’m turning 39 next year. So it is good news for me that a government advisory panel reported this week that mammograms should not be routinely performed until a woman reaches the age of 50, and then it should only be performed every 2 years.
But wait, enough with the tongue-in cheek cynicism. What exactly is science doing telling my doctor and me when I should have a mammogram done?
They’re not. Guidelines and recommendations are nice. But it doesn’t say that I don’t need to go to the doctor at all. It doesn’t say that I can’t perform monthly self-exams, nor does it say that my husband can’t tell me when my breasts look or feel “different.”
I personally had my baseline mammogram done on my doctor’s recommendation just earlier this year, so I feel like I’m covered at least for now. I am glad to not have to go through getting my “girls pressed” again for a while. I only hope MRIs are less expensive by the time I’m ready for another test.
So in response to the question, “what do we do now?” I would think women should do just what they’ve been doing. Keep consulting with your doctor, and keep doing your due diligence to protect your health. And you bet your bottom-dollar, that if you think you may have located something, you should rush to your gynecologist’s office to see what they think it is and have her order-up some tests.
This applies to everyone, regardless of family history, and risk factors. By all means, take it as a cue, yet another reminder, that you should diminish your risk factors as much as possible. But still keep a lookout for clues that something may be wrong. Read up on the “20 Cancer Symptoms Women are Most Likely to Ignore” (http://health.msn.com/health-topics/cancer/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100236870), and if the symptoms are overwhelming, get checked out.
I had a good discussion with my sister about this controversial topic of mammograms. She is daily in gynecologist and other doctor offices and hospitals as a sales consultant for women’s pelvic floor procedures. We agree that the hubbub is symptomatic of our country moving toward socialized medicine. Does this report and a probable new government recommendation open the door for insurance companies to charge more for people with family history or increased risk factors? It could. Does it remove availability for those who really need it? It better not. We are blessed to live in a country that touts freedom with a big red, white, and blue flag, and people who aren’t afraid to fight for that freedom.
Christine Jeffries is a writer/editor for work and at heart, and lives in a home of testosterone with her husband and two sons. She started a women’s group, The Wo-Hoo! Society, in the interests of friendship, networking, and philanthropy. The group meets separately on a monthly basis in the Phoenix and Kansas City areas. Christine is interested in women’s health and promoting strong women.
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Hi Christine - Thanks for your thoughtful and thought-provoking post about the controversy that's developed over mammography guidelines.
Like many issues, this one has several sides. The immediate impact of just the announcement of the guidelines was massive cancellations of scheduled mammograms across the country. Some health professionals saw this as an indicator that those who feared the exams had found an excuse to avoid it and were using it.
We'll be haring a lot more on this topic in the days and weeks ahead. It's good to have the conversations going - thanks for joining in.
Take good care,November 18, 2009 - 5:50pm