The Great Mammogram Debate

By: Courtney Floyd

Blogs
April 30, 2015

Recently the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released new recommendations for breast cancer screening. Although the American Cancer Society (along with many other medical organizations) recommend annual screening mammograms starting at age 40, USPSFT is now advocating mammogram screening every two years after the age 50.

The USPSTF defends its new endorsement by claiming early mammograms can be beneficial, but can also be harmful to women. They are defining the harmful effects as more women being misdiagnosed and over treated for breast cancer. Although this new recommendation is only that—a recommendation—many insurance agencies (including Medicare) contemplate their considerations when making coverage decisions.

I reached out to a couple of the PRMA surgeons and this is what they had to say about the new headline:

Dr. Chet Nastala: “It seems as though the task force is interpreting the data very differently from the mainstream MDs at the American College of Radiology, Gynecology and the American Cancer Society. They all disagree with the task force's recommendations to limit screenings to every other year and only to ages 50-74 in women of average risk.”

Dr. Peter Ledoux: “If I were a woman in my 40s, with any hint of breast or ovarian cancer in my family tree, I would get yearly mammograms.”

My Personal Reflections on the Matter:

As a young women in the health care industry, my health is always one of my top priorities. Working as the patient liaison for PRMA is one of the biggest blessings in my life. On a daily basis, I am touched by women who I consider to be modern day super heroines! From the beginnings of their breast cancer treatment, to their last post-operative breast reconstruction visit, these ladies are nothing short of inspiring. Seeing the effects and loss breast cancer brings, I am a huge advocate of self-breast exams in young women. Knowing and listening to your body is so important—especially when it comes to detecting cancer early. When I enter my 40’s, I pray annual mammograms will be covered by my insurance, and I hope I am encouraged by my physicians to do so. Regardless, if I am “misdiagnosed” and have to endure an unnecessary breast biopsy, I would much rather be proactive and overly cautious rather than catch something too late!

I do believe every women has a valued opinion in this very controversial matter and I respect each opinion. What's yours?

2 Comments

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  • Terri

    Courtney, your personal reflection is one of conviction based on daily knowledge that you gain and are exposed to from some top-notch health care professionals at PRMA. I applaud you for your comments and I, like you, only hope that insurance covers annual mammograms when you enter your 40’s. I am diligent about having my annual mammograms and if I was not, I would not have known about my second recurrence of cancer in April of last year, 2014. Every other year simply does not and would not have worked for me. I find it rather ironic that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is seemingly not living up to its name, “Preventive”. We have the tools: mammograms, ultrasounds and biopsies to detect early cancer and save so many lives. There are educated women who are sharing stories and encouraging others to do self-breast exams. We have physicians who are on board with informing patients about breast health. I only hope this is not “dollar driven” and I only hope that the task force thinks about the responsibility of their title, “preventive”. My opinion and thanks for asking.

    Reply
  • Nicole

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. As a breast imaging radioloist I agree annual breast cancer screening should be routine for women beginning at age 40.

    Reply
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