Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Risks Vs Benefits

Yesterday, a report came out regarding mammograms.

In a nut shell, it said that healthy women (who do not have a history of breast cancer in their family) can push mammograms until they are 50. Then they should only have them every other year. The long standing age has been 40 with a recommended mammogram every year (unless you have a history of breast cancer).

Part of the reasoning behind the study is that as you age (specifically 50 and up) your are more likely to get breast cancer than most women in their 40s and many women in their 40s experience false positives that forces them to undergo further testing, biopsies and causes them undo stress. They also say that self breast examination is not necessary as they lead to more mamograms and biopsies for non cancerous bumps.

Obviously, one of the opponents of this new recommendation is the American Cancer Society who encourage women to get yearly mammograms after age 40. Especially since early detection increases the treatment options and life span.

My question to you is would you rather have a false positive and be subjected to further testing after age 40 or would you do what the new recommended guidelines are and start at 50?

For me, I would rather start at age 40 and if there is nothing after the first mamogram, then every other year. But I would rather experience a false positive early than risk a later stage cancer at age 50.

What are your thoughts?

Do you self examine?


Jessica said...

I would absolutely rather be subject to the stress of a false positive. According to the report, beginning mammograms at 40 instead of 50 will save the life of one person per 1000 who receive mammograms. For 999 people, it's of no consequence, but if you're that one person, it's everything.

There's even more to it than saving lives. We're also talking about more women who will need more aggressive treatment because their cancer was not detected as early as it might have been.

SoMi's Nilsa said...

Here's the troubling thing about all this. What's so magical about 40? What about all those women would could've used the mammograms in their 30s or even 20s?

The thing about medical guidelines is they target the masses. Of course there will be individuals who do not follow pattern. And none of us want to be the one who could've used the screening earlier.

But, medical guidelines were never intended to be a catch-all. Based on scientific evidence, these doctors/scientists have determined that a statistical majority of women do not need these screenings before age 50.

I have a history of breast cancer in my family, so I'm not sure that my opinion matters regarding would I want to know ... as I know I'll start getting them when I'm 40.

paisana said...

I don't, and I should. I totally disagree with this finding.

Non Sequitur Chica said...

I would rather get the false positive. It would suck to be that one person out of 1000 or whatever the statistic is that the mammogram COULD have caught early and yet didn't because it was every other year.