Saturday, November 21, 2009

I Plan on Ignoring This, and Suggest You Do, Too.

The official guidelines on breast cancer screenings have been changed. Click on the link below and read for more details:

In essence, women will be encouraged to a) not perform monthly self-exams, b) not receive mammograms before age 50 and after age 75, and c) only receive a mammogram every two years.

While I understand that the vast majority of women can follow these guidelines and not be negatively affected...if they're lucky. However, there's a reason why the previous guidelines (mammograms at age 40, monthly self-exams for all women, etc) are a good idea; THEY SAVE LIVES.

My mother is a breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed in February 2008 with stage 2 breast cancer, received a round of chemo and a round of radiation, and has been cancer free since then. Her breast cancer was caught very early, as a result of her annual mammogram. If she had waited another year to have a mammogram, then her cancer (which was a rare and aggressive form), would most likely have been caught "too late". If she had delayed her mammogram by a year, most likely she'd be dead by now.

My husband's grandmother died of breast cancer. She was 87, it was stage 3 by the time they caught it, and she hadn't done a self-exam or had a mammogram in years. I think a nurse saw the lump after her hip surgery, or something like that.

I know other women who have received early breast cancer diagnoses because of a self-exam or routine mammogram, but these are the two that have hit closest to home.

My biggest fear is that insurance companies will change their policies to reflect these new recommendations. Some women (like myself and my mother) will continue to receive annual mammograms (I had been approved to have one, but then I got pregnant. I'll get one once I'm done nursing), even if we have to pay out of pocket and (as my mom says), "as long as I can stand up." Other women however, will not be able to afford to self-pay if necessary, and I worry that many women will receive late cancer diagnoses because they have no choice but to space out their mammograms. That makes me angry, and it makes me sad (oooh...can you tell I have five units of CPE?).

OK, I'm getting off my soapbox now. Feel free to chime in if you agree or disagree with me. I just had to get that off my chest.


Mompriest said...

I hate getting mammograms...BUT I never postpone them and have had one every year for the last, oh, I don't know 15 or college roomate died from breast cancer at the age of 35....that is motivation enough.

Mary Beth said...

mammograms, and now pap smears. PLEASE!!!!!! They have got to be kidding. I don't like either but I don't mess around with skipping them.

I am fortunate to have insurance and can pay out of pocket for this (right now) if I have to.

Oh, and when are they going to decide that men don't need basic regular care?