Monday, November 29, 2010

To Mammogram or not to Mammogram

We get a lot of questions about this so here is an attempt to clarify some things. The recent task force recommendation AGAINST mammography screening in women 40 - 50 year old women is stirring up a lot of confusion.

What the panel actually said is that it does not make FINANCIAL sense to screen these women. The numbers they issued are as follows. Of the 250,000+ women in this age group who are screened every year. 80,000 of those women are called back for further screening and or biopsy. Of those 80,000 only 1,200 will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Those are the numbers, here come the emotions....

Getting a call back for a mammogram is scary, really scary. Getting a biopsy is horrible. There is no way around it, either lying face down totally uncomfortable while a core needle biopsy or the small needle and then the surgical biopsy. I would not wish either of these things on my worst enemy. 80,000 women have to walk thru this. That is nearly one third of the women who get mammograms!!

On the other hand, i know sooo many women between 40 and 50 who found their cancer thru a mammogram. What do we say to these women?!?

I think the choice is personal, intensely personal. If you know these numbers, make your choice and trust your self. No one can tell you what to do. Most of the arguments we hear are so based in fear that they do not even make sense. Some story of someone who did or did not get help from a mammogram is not what you should base your decision on.

More to follow....