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Teresa Heinz, Battling Cancer, Supports Regular Mammograms

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Teresa Heinz, wife of the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. John Kerry, is undergoing treatment for breast cancer and is urging younger women to continue getting regular mammograms despite recent federal guidelines recommending they get fewer of the cancer-detecting tests.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Heinz, 71, said the physical and emotional toll of the disease for women who need surgery and other follow-up treatment, such as chemotherapy, is far greater than the cost of mammography.

Her cancer was detected during an annual mammogram in late September, she said.

Heinz underwent lumpectomies in October and November, the first for what was thought to be a benign growth in her right breast, the second after the tumor was confirmed to be malignant.

She is advising other women to get tested in the wake of last month's controversial recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that women postpone the start of mammograms to age 50, rather than starting at 40, as has been customary.

The task force recommendations were criticized by many medical and women's organizations, and the government later backed down and said its policies "remain unchanged."

Heinz's treatment will include five days of targeted radiation starting next month, which could boost the odds of successful treatment to 95 percent, the AP said. She said she remains undecided about subsequent follow-up treatment.

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