Nov 20, 2009 8:31 AM by Hoyt Harris

RANT: Mammogram Recommendations Change

What do you think about the recent changes in how often Mammograms are recommended? Do you agree or disagree with this change? We want to hear your RANT!

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Kate Mundy's Story:

Women should no longer have mammograms in their 40's, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a government panel of doctors and scientists.

The new guidelines are for the general population, not those at high risk of breast cancer because of family history or gene mutations.The guidelines not only push for screenings starting at age 50, but getting them every other year. Their findings also cast doubt as to the effectiveness of breast self exams.

Lafayette cancer survivor Judy Keller considers the new guidelines as bad advice. She says regular testing saved her life. "I went in for my annual mammogram and they found something," said Keller.

She had a lumpectomy and chemotherapy and remains cancer-free today. Keller was caught off-guard by new federal guidelines recommending that women over age 50 get mammograms every 2 years.     

"I was shocked and I thought, I'm a living breathing example of why that is too risky a position to take. If I had waited two years, I might not be sitting here," said Keller.

The American Cancer Society has also come out against the new guidelines. They still recommend self exams and annual mammograms for women in their forties. "We never would recommend that you push back the annual screenings or do it at a later age because the sooner you catch anything that you may have, I mean, it's so much better to be safe than sorry," said Leslie Briscoe of the Lafayette American Cancer Society.

The Preventive Services Task Force considered the harms and benefits of the screenings. They found screenings cause psychological harms from false positives, painful biopsies and more exposure to radiation.
But, Keller is not changing her mind. In fact, she's going in for her annual mammogram next month.

For a detailed look at the new guidelines, click here.


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