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I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

No ma'am, no mammogram

I went to the doctor recently for a long overdue "annual" exam and since I'm now of a certain age, the topic of mammograms came up. I've read a bunch of conflicting information on mammograms lately, mostly revolving around the number of false positives, overdiagnosis and the medical machinery one gets trapped in if something does show up. My doctor did mention that other countries, Western Europe mainly, don't start doing mammograms until women are 50.

I asked her what the recommendation was and she said that it's every year starting at forty and if you have three clear years, then you can do it every other year. Which sounded like a lot to me, given the fact that they don't seem tremendously accurate and, given the fact that I know of women who have had something show up on a mammogram and freak out over it and get a ton of treatment and all the while they aren't sure exactly if treatment was actually necessary in the first place.

There are other diagnostic tools, but they are expensive or have higher amounts of radiation and I'm still at a quandary of what to do. I don't have any history of breast cancer in my family, took low dose birth control pills only briefly, breastfed for two years and have no history of anything suspicious. My doctor was in the middle of offering me choices of where to get it done (there are three nearby facilities) when I told her I wanted to think about it. She was kind of shocked, I think, and then stated, "well you did just turn 40." Like I was a ticking time bomb.

New guidelines suggest that screening mammograms should be done every two years beginning at age 50 for women at average risk of breast cancer. But the Mayo Clinic still recommends screening mammograms start at age 40. What the heck are we supposed to do with this conflicting information?

I discussed this with my husband, who knows all about cancer and it's happy fun times and false info. He suggested I take her advice and get a base line mammogram, and if there's anything that shows up, ignore it and get tested again in a year.

I told him that's all fine and good, but there's no way anyone can comfortably ignore a potentially cancerous tumor once you know it's there, even if it's just a spot. You're going to want to aspirate it and fall into the cogs of treatment. Not to mention that increased exposure to radiation from all those mammograms increases the risk of cancer and the fact that compression can increase the risk of cancer cells spreading if, in fact, they do already exist in the breast.

I haven't decided much of anything yet, so I thought I'd ask my readers what you do, did or what you think about mammograms and their necessity in women under 50, or 45, for that matter. What say ye?

52 comments:

meg said...

Well...you know my work background...so I'm for them personally. Once you know something, then you can make decisions. But the recommendations make it fairly hard to decide.

Jen. said...

I got a baseline done at age 40, 8 years ago, and I couldn't tell you now how I would go about getting a copy of that short of calling all the radiologists in Raleigh. I'm in a low risk category, too, but am still conflicted over whether I should have another one & if so, when & how often. I'm pretty much in the camp of the less 'doctoring' we get, the healthier we are, but I know that isn't always the case, so there's risk involved either way.

Judy Schwartz Haley | CoffeeJitters.Net said...

I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 39, and belong to a support group of over 100 women in the Seattle area who were diagnosed with breast cancer in their 20s and 30s - most with no family history.

By the time they caught my breast cancer, I was already at stage 3 and it was in my lymph nodes.

Everyone needs to make their own decisions, but personally, I'd rather have a false positive that turns out to be nothing than have it spread because it wasn't caught.

Jen said...

I had a mammogram this year due to the big 40. I have no family history of breast cancer.

It was stressful, I have a dense place in one breast and it took re-scanning with several extra shots. But everything was ok and now they have a baseline.

This post comes at almost a surreal time. My brother, yes brother, was diagnosed this past Friday with breast cancer. He's 37. Not that testing would have caught his as it is so rare in men and even more rare in young men.

But in all the reading I've done in the past few days, early detection is so important. I will be getting a mammogram every year.

Donna said...

I work in a breast cancer surgeon's office and I can tell you that many of the women who have been diagnosed recently are in their 40s. We have a few in their 30s and like Judy already advanced. Most women who are diagnosed do not have any family history. One of our patients is in her 20s and already it is in her brain and bones. I know this is rare, but she had a lump that nobody did anything about because she was young. I guess you know where I am going with this. Better safe.

Anonymous said...

Here in New Zealand we get free mammograms between the ages of 50 and 60. I had my first 8 years ago and something showed up. The doctors were adamant that it had to be removed although it only had a 95% chance of becoming cancerous. I had the operation - luckily we have good national health coverage. I'm not sure how I feel now, I suspect I wouldn't have the operation.
But , it is good to know that the system if used well can help prevent women dying prematurely.
Loretta

Bitts said...

I think our environment increases our risk for breast cancer so profoundly that it would be less likely that the increased radiation exposure or compression had an impact and far more likely that it was some other insidious environmental trigger.

Plus, early detection offers such success for survival -- early stage breast cancer is NOT the death sentence it used to be. Late-stage, however, still is.

I would get the mammograms, maybe spaced further apart, but do RIGOROUS BSEs, performed by you, your husband and your GYN. There's significant evidence that partners find lumps somewhat more frequently than women themselves do because they're more ... um ... well-acquainted with the breasts. ;>

Zita said...

I am 39 years old. My doctor sent me for my first mammogram at 37. I have no idea why. I have no family history of breast cancer and I had not detected any lumps. But, I dutifully had my baseline test done. This year he recommended a follow up. After much consideration, I have decided not to have another mammogram done this year.....and not likely until I reach my 50's unless I can be respectfully convinced otherwise (no fear tactics, please).

There were two factors that weighed heavily in my decision.

1) The Canadian Medical Association Journal states in its article entitled Preventive health care, 2001 update: screening mammography among women aged 40–49 years at average risk of breast cancer,

"Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have shown that screening mammography reduces mortality among women aged 50–70. However, the Canadian National Breast Screening Study (NBSS-1) did not show a reduction in mortality among women aged 40–49. In 1994 the Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health Examination (now the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care) concluded that there was fair evidence to exclude screening with clinical examination and mammography in this age group (grade D recommendation).

It goes on to say that women under 50 are not recruited for breast cancer screening and that 4 of 11 provinces will not accept women under the age of 50 for routine breast screening.

(clearly women are being recruited for breast cancer screening earlier than age 50 but that is contrary to the recommendations - I would like to know why)

2) Author, Herbalist and the voice of the Wise Woman Tradition, Susun Weed has some interesting things to say about the procedure of mammography both on her website (www.susunweed.com) as well as in her book "Breast Cancer? Breast Health! the Wise Woman Way" Much of her information is contrary to what is being promoted in mainstream medicine but all of her information is well documented, well supported and well researched.

Best wishes making the decision that is best for your body, your mind and your spirit.

Donna said...

@Bitts,
I agree with you completely about the environmental risks. We are poisoning our world and this is a greater risk for all kinds of cancer. Not to mention all the processed food that people are consuming. This is definitely a greater risk than the radiation from a mammogram.

Billie said...

I get my mammograms yearly. At 19, I had my first lumps removed that were about the size of golf balls. At 35? 36? I actually had mammograms done every 6 months for several years to watch a lump. 2 years ago they finally took that out as well as a massive growth in my underarm. All found not cancerous. I am now back to 'yearly' exams. I say that with quotations because I actually missed this years due to financial constraints.

Although I have no family history of breast cancer, my experience has been to err on the side of caution. I would rather do a few extra mammograms and catch it early and survive than not and wish I had.

koolchicken said...

I personally wouldn't make any health decisions based on what other countries are doing. I know there are some new groups saying it's fine to put off mammograms until 50, but most of it is due to cost. The cost of the test, the cost of the doctors/nurses/techs time, and of course follow up procedures. I think we'll see a lot of that in the future if we do go to universal health care. Tests being put off or skipped altogether due to the cost.

As for the potential health and risks associated with screening, I think its important to remember there are risks to every procedure and that it's the job of the doctor to weigh them with the benefits. If my doctor said get a mammogram would get one.

Greenpa said...

"What the heck are we supposed to do with this conflicting information?"

And there, I think, is the crux of the human condition.

The sum total of human wisdom on this point being summed up in the ancient proverb: "You pays your money, and you takes your chances."

And, no, it ain't funny. Men are facing identical issues with prostate cancer right now. As far as I can tell, there's just no clear path here.

Your husband's advice seems sane to me.

Tree Huggin Momma said...

You are forgetting the fact that Mamograms detect tumors that may not be caught by self exam and have a higher likelihood of good outcome.

Breast Cancer runs in my family. My grandmother had it twice. First she had a lumpectomy and 6 years later a masectomy. 10 years later she died of unknown causes, in other words the oncologist and the cardiologist couldn't decide if it was her heart or the lung cancer she developed.

I am not one for mamograms. I am not willing to subject myself to the radiation. I am eligible as of age 20 for mamograms annually (because of our history) what would be more effective would be the genetic testing. To test and see if I have the gene. Granted women without the gene still get the test, but if you had the gene and you knew it you might be more likely to get a mamogram.
I did my mamorgrams until I got pregnant and then I decided it wasn't worth the hassle or the risk. I will wait until I am in my 50s unless I have some other indicator that I need one.
My sister found a lump by self exam and is on her way to full remission. Its been 2 years. She had a mamogram 2 months earlier and it was clean. She wouldn't have had another mamogram for a full year.

Anonymous said...

I see one of the breast specialist at UW due to a significant family history. The rec. from her is still yearly after 40. The logic I found most compelling is the cancer detected in under 50 women is the most aggressive. Rather poignant to me as my mid-40s neighbor is battling stage IV breast cancer.

Anonymous said...

My doctor (and the new one I have after I dumped the last one--different, but semi-related story) both are on the mammowagon. I'm 44 now and got my first and only mammo about 5 years ago. First of all (TMI disclaimer...)


My breast are SO small that if I had a lump I'd likely See it. That in mind, for those who have Had mammograms, do you know what it's like to get the damn things to Stay in the machine? I know it sounds petty, but it's very painful to get done.

My mother and her mother both died from cancer. Not breast cancer, mind you. In fact, my mother's body was riddled with cancer--the breast was One place she Didn't have cancer. But the info gets my Western Med doc all riled up--especially when I say I don't Want to get a mammogram. She acts like I've said I don't want a tourniquet after slicing an artery in the woods.

On the other hand, my mother in law has overcome both thyroid And breast cancer because of early detection. She's healthy and happy and intact. That said, if my boobs weren't so small that I could see my Back ribs from the front let alone any lumps, and they actually Fit in the damn machine, I'd do it. And if the radiation from it actually does somehting bad to you just blame it on VOCs from paint, or some crap you ate before you were enlightened. ;)

Rosa said...

It's not the cost that makes people question early mammograms - it's the relative worth. There's a small extra risk from the radiation, and also the scars from lumpectomies can make later detection harder for some women. Studies like the one Zita cited show there may not be a benefit to counteract those risks.

Sue said...

I'm similarly low-risk (no family history, no extensive use of birth control pills, breast fed five years) and had a baseline at 40, which found "calicifications." THey asked me to retest in six months, which I did, found no change and told me to test every year. I have not returned. I may at 50. frustratingly, the lab won't release my mammogram results to me, even though I've moved out of state. They insist I have them send it to a lab in my new town.

Hilde said...

In Germany, we get free mammograms between 50 and 70. I got one, but after all the information I got recently I will not haveanother one any time soon. Btw, I asked my gynecologist if his wife ever has had a mammogram (they are both in their fifties) and he said no. So maybe you should ask your doctor about her personal experiences.

Kim from Milwaukee said...

I had my third mammogram just a few months ago (had my first at age 40), and I'm 50 this year. To balance out the risk of radiation with the risk of not finding a lump on my own, I decided to get the mammo every three years at this point. It's painful and humiliating, but at that rate I can deal with it.

My sister found a lump (BSE) when she was 35, and her breast tissue was so dense that a mammogram didn't find it (it was walnut sized). Thankfully she's been free and clear for 10 years now. She gets mammos every year.

nava said...

I am wondering why it is that when a lump is found treatment is begun before the test results come back? my family has a history of ovarian cancer and ovarian cysts, and it seems that the practice of doctors is either ignore completely or biopsy and begin immediate treatment, then give an 'all clear' once the tests come back, and I feel that this treatment practice is unnecessary, but perhaps someone can enlighten me?
I personally would get screened, but wait for test results. Is that possible?

Anonymous said...

How about a digital mammogram? My doctor said they have less radiation than the regular ones and they are easier to read in case they find something.

Anonymous said...

I worry more about the radiation of the mammogram causing cancer. I'm 47 and still haven't had a mammogram but I'm at low risk with normal breast tissue. I don't have to pay for a mammogram cause I'm in Canada. I'm still on the fence on this one but I'm sure if I had a lump or other problem I'd be having one for sure. I just don't like to mess with something that's not broken, ya know?

BathCake said...

I have stage 4 bone cancer from breast cancer. I have never had a mammogram because I was "too young". Personally, I think any precaution you do not take is a missed opportunity of more years with your family. I fight every single day to spend as much time here as I can. I know you know this drill.

Go, get the mammogram. If there's a lump INSIST that it be biopsied. Biopsies don't lie. They either are or they aren't, barring human error which can occur anytime in anything. I think where people get them sucked into a system unnecessarily is when they go from mammogram to ultrasound to whatever.

BathCake said...

Forgot to say in that post ... no factors for me either. No family history, I've never smoked, I breast fed my 3 boys, I'm not of the ethnic descent its commonly found in, etc, etc. Since then I've had the genetic testing done, I don't carry the gene. No one knows why I have it.

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

Personally, I wouldn't do it. These recommendations stink of defensive medicine and frankly, I think all of these tests are just one of the many problems driving our ridiculously high cost health care "system." Not many people think about the emotional costs of a semi-unreliable test like a mammogram nor do they consider the radiation. I commend you for not just jumping on your doctor's bandwagon!

I'd stick with regular self-examinations until YOU feel it is necessary to do otherwise. After all, you know your body, your environment, and your family history best.

Anonymous said...

My 39 year-old sister (and mother of an autistic child, Rett Syndrome)went in for a baseline mammogram not expecting anything to come of it. We have no history of breast cancer whatsoever in my family. She was trained as an LPN, so she knew about and performed monthly breast exams. During her mammogram, the mammographer said "Please wait here, the doctor needs to see this right now." The doctor came in, looked at the mammogram and said "you've got quite a large tumor very deep in one of your breasts that we need to biopsy ASAP". The next day she had the biopsy done and by the day after that she was diagnosed with invasive ductal breast cancer. Since then she has had a partial mastectomy, radiation and chemo. But most importantly----she is alive to keep on being a mother to her 3 children.

I am pretty darn healthy and don't generally go in for all of the preventative stuff...but after that, I did go get a baseline mammogram done--and it was normal. Fast forward 3 years, and now my 2nd of 3 sisters was just diagnosed with invasive ductal breast cancer. Her mammogram in February was clear and by July, she found a lump during a monthly breast exam. She went in for a mammogram and boom, there it was...that darn fast...between February and July. So although I hadn't had a mammogram since that first baseline--I am now back to going regularly.

So my vote would be--go get the baseline at the very least, please.

Brad K. said...

@ Mama, Mama, Quite Contrary,

You touched on my thoughts - how do the tests impact the doctor's income? Does each test count toward a "Christmas" bonus, free drug samples, or an earlier tee-time?


@ Crunchy,

A couple years back there was a company working on a simple rubber or latex sheet, similar to the rubber pads sold to help open jar lids, about the size of a pot holder. It may have been the same rubber sheet as the jar openers. They found that it increased the sensitivity to finding lumps during breast self-examination, dramatically so. But the FDA wouldn't let them sell the thing.


@ Nava,

I am not a doctor, just guessing. On the one hand, insurance companies pay for biopsies and lumpectomies. On the other hand - leaving a lump alone leaves a potential false positive to alarm someone the next time it is noticed, and might be confused for an actual cancerous lump that might develop later. And, some non-cancer lumps do change to cancer. So the doctor has to choose between best advice - rely on "old standby" surgery to fix every ailment, or catch flack and lawsuits for letting a potentially cancerous growth grow and spread while waiting for test results.

Much of the shadow of insurance over western medicine is eclipsed by the deeper shadow of lawyers and law suits. Who could blame a doctor for taking the path of least litigation? Unless we are concerned about our health, that is.

@ Chrunchy,

Blessings on your family and whatever you decide.

Michelle said...

My Mom had DCIS before menopause (ductal carcinoma in situ) and had a mastectomy. No chemo, no radiation... and that was in 1987. Still, because of that history, I started getting mammos at age 40. I find that the exam is much quicker and much less uncomfortable than I'd expected.

Still, you have to choose what makes sense in your mind and in your life. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I said EXACTLY what you are saying about the cogs of the medical machine...and the false positive rate is too high...my dr ordered an ultrasound re some pain I was having in one breast, but the diagnostic imaging place REFUSED to do only an u/s. I had a chat with the technician, who was impressed by what I knew, but fell into the "more scary will get more compliance" camp.

I finally had the mammogram, but don't forsee doing another anytime soon. I'm 41

Robj98168 said...

You know, while not a woman, I was raised by one, and I know she would tell you to get your arse into the doctor for a mammogram. You should of seen or heard her when I said I didn't think I needed a colonoscopy. Of course she was a medical professional and has an undying faith in medical procedures and drugs. But I think her advice is sound.

Anonymous said...

All the conflicting new recommendations make it difficult to decide when you're in your 40's, but this much I can tell you from working in the medical profession: your top two risk factors for breast cancer are age and having breasts. NOT family history-- most women (and men) with breast cancer have a negative family history. As for breast self-exams-- great idea, and I've met a few patients who have detected their own breast cancer through them, but they don't replace mammograms. I can't tell you how many patients I've met who knew they had cancer from a mammo but couldn't feel a thing. My own mom is tiny and thin and VERY small-busted and couldn't feel her own breast cancer. I don't know what to think about getting them in one's 40's-- although I will, because of my mother-- but the advice for the 50's seems to be pretty clear cut.

johng said...

Don't look for trouble. There is a great book out on this topic:

Should I Be Tested for Cancer? : H. Gilbert Welch, M.D., M.P.H

The stats on Testing for Cancer are amazing, yes they find it earlier, but long term survival has very little impact. Plus you're thrown in the spin cycle of worry. Radiation is dangerous folks and causes cancer. The test is not benign. The other crazy test is for colon cancer. Asymptomatic testing punctures as many colons as cancer is found. A punctured colon is a big deal. There is a reason that good studies have backed off on PSA, Mammograms and colon cancer recommendation testing. The false positives are a big issue for people, causing all kinds of $$ and worry. Doing large population testing of asymptomatic patients makes no sense. Testing should be done to confirm diagnosis, not to go on a fishing expedition. Very few docs understand, specificity, sensitivity. They had one short lecture in their training. They always recommend testing in USA medicine. It's a CYA and lucrative.

Tara said...

I am just about to turn 40 and have had annual mammograms since I was 35 due to family history. I can say that having them done did not hurt and while they were mildly embarrassing (chicken cutlets at the meat market, anyone?!), the staff performing the procedures has always been caring and respectful of me as I am sure they are trained to be with everyone.

I am a 1 year survivor of breast cancer and while mine was due to genetics, please keep in mind that only around 10% of all breast cancers are genetic. The other 90% are environmental. I know far too many women who have had breast cancer while considered "too young to have it" and very few had a family history or genetic predisposition.

With all of the chemical and unnatural havoc being wreaked in our environment these days, I think it is especially important to be mindful of the extremely elevated risks of all sorts of cancer and to be as proactive as possible in protecting your health.

Speaking to the issue of being treated before test results come back; I have to say that I've personally not heard of anyone being given any treatments prior to test results coming back, other than a biopsy to determine what the suspected mass is. My cancer was caught quick enough to allow me to AVOID additional treatments like chemo and radiation and it would not have been caught without imaging equipment.

Choose your preferred method, be it mammogram, ultrasound, MRI, whatever, and get screened. Please.

Jan_B said...

Along with Multiple Schlerosis, I've read that Seattle has one of the highest rates of breast cancer, nationally. Maybe, due to a higher per capita screening level, these cancers are detected earlier here; not sure.

A low-risk, late-50s woman, I've had periodic mammograms every other year for awhile now. I'd take a false positive, (which I've never received), over inattention and the associated risk every time. Lose just one friend or loved one to breast cancer and suddenly, screening makes excellent sense.

To those who would otherwise get a mammogram, but are now without health insurance,contact your county's public health department about no/very low-cost women's health services. King County PHS offers a program in the Seattle/Eastside area - zero cost pelvic exams and mammograms for we uninsured.

craftydabbler said...

I wanted a baseline done when I turned 40. I had wanted one earlier because I have very lumpy breasts. Nothing was detected on the mammogram. Now I am content to go 3-5 years before another one. I go to a naturopath for all of my non-emergency type medical care and she is supportive of my decision.

Susan said...

I had my first mammo at 36 due to a lump which the mammo showed to be a cyst. No further treatment was recommended and the cyst resolved itself in less than a month. I'm now 48 and just had my third mammo since turning 40. I almost skipped it this year because I have small breasts and the squishing is very uncomfortable. Plus they have to take even more films which irritates me (there's no place for a tumor to hide!). Anyway, I got a call that there was a suspicious result on the mammo *but* the nurse who called flat-out told me that the doc just wanted to do an ultrasound --- if he wanted an ultrasound and another mammo it would indicate a tumor. Ultrasound alone usually means cyst. And, yup, it was another cyst.

My feeling is get the baseline this year or next and then watch the research. Breast MRI is coming and I think the radiation is reduced or eliminated with that. Plus MRI is much more accurate.

Melissa said...

I too just turned 40, but my OB/GYN told me that since there is no history of breast cancer, no complaints, and she didn't find anything in a thorough manual exam that I should wait another five years unless we feel a problem. The key is to check yourself and if unsure schedule a visit with your doctor

Condo Blues said...

My doctor wanted me to go in for a baseline mammogram at 35 even though I don't have a family history. I did because I've met way too many people who were under 40 that got breast cancer. And really, the small zap of radiation is a small price to pay for early detection. One of my co-workers was only off of work for a month because of a mammogram detecting her breast cancer so early in it's development.

The staff at my center were kind and as discrete as one can be about placing a boob between 2 plates to take an x-ray of it. The only difficulty is that I am an A so they smooshed a bit more of me in the machine than they would someone who's a bit larger. Even then it took less than 15 minutes after they called my name.

Gankaku said...

Hi - your article was very interesting. I have similar history as you - no history of breast cancer in our family, I nursed my second child for nine months, never took birth control pills, I don't smoke or drink and try to generally take good care of my health and pay attention to body signals. None of these things together or in total are guarantees, right? However, I am more concerned of the risks of the mammogram itself right now. I try to avoid a lot of the bad things and xrays and having my breasts smashed are on that list! I'm nearly 50 and haven't had one yet. I do have to say - I went to a natural health counselor (many times in my life) and once I had gotten a positive pap smear. Of course later there was nothing but I worried more than crazy about my health, which in itself is detrimental to one's health! The counselor asked if I'd had a mammogram yet. I was younger and told him no. He said that it was ok to wait. Even pap smears shouldn't be done yearly. Both of the procedures are invasive and disruptive. Sometimes - yes. If there's a problem, yes. Probably if there's a history - yes. But he didn't agree they should be done as regularly or as soon as what American medicine requests of us. Just some food for thought.

Ornery's Wife said...

I'm 50 and I will not ever have one. The radiation and the abuse done to the tissue while the procedure is being done are more than hazardous.

there is another procedure that does not have any radiation called thermal imaging. It is harmless, less invasive and actually more accurate. You can read more about all this at Mercola.com. He has a lot of info on mammograms (or as my husband calls them, "maim-ograms."

Claire said...

I am 53. When I turned 40, my doctor, a woman, told me I should have a mammogram. I refused. Every year after that she told me I should have one - until I quit going every year. Partly from cost, partly because I don't feel I'm falling apart and resented the insinuation that once I passed 40 I was.

YMMV, and I respect everyone's opinion. Some people need/want a mammogram, don't feel they are well cared for unless they do all the recommended tests. Some people may get one because they are subconsciously aware something is wrong, and they find out it is. Some people don't trust that they can know their own bodies well enough, and they are best doing what their doctors recommend. Me, I was trained as a chemist, have already been exposed to some nasty chemicals, don't want to add any radiation to the mix, and trust my own body to let me know if something is wrong. I haven't had a mammogram and don't plan to unless/until my body suggests otherwise.

Annie said...

What I took away from reading articles on the change in recommendations and all the controversy is that, in terms of actual risk of death from breast cancer, mammograms don't make a difference. The odds are the same. Sometimes they catch cancer and it's treatable, sometimes they catch it and it's not, sometimes they don't catch it. If my chances of survival are not enhanced by a mammogram I probably won't bother with it when the time comes.

Jennifer Lorenzetti said...

I'm 40, and I'm just saying "no" to mammograms until/unless I feel I have a reason to worry (like feeling a lump, or if I had a family history that indicated increased risk). I've been a medical writer for several years (not a doctor--this isn't medical advice), and FOR ME, the risk of false positives or detection of something my body would handle by iteself are too much for the theoretical benefit of early detection.

Marie-Josée said...

Crunchy, what about thermography. I have read that this technology can detect suspicious tissue and is completely harmless. I know this screening is available in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, so I am confident you can find a facility in the progressive Northwest.

Marie-Josée said...

Crunchy, what about thermography. I have read that this technology can detect suspicious tissue and is completely harmless. I know this screening is available in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, so I am confident you can find a facility in the progressive Northwest.

Marie-Josée said...

Crunchy, what about thermography. I have read that this technology can detect suspicious tissue and is completely harmless. I know this screening is available in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, so I am confident you can find a facility in the progressive Northwest.

Marie-Josée said...

Crunchy, what about thermography. I have read that this technology can detect suspicious tissue and is completely harmless. I know this screening is available in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, so I am confident you can find a facility in the progressive Northwest.

Charlotte said...

I just had a thermogram yesterday (I turned 40 this year). It was painless and radiation-free. They are 80-90% accurate compared to under 50% accurate for mammograms for women in their 40s. I found a practitioner through this website: http://www.breastthermography.com/

FarmGirl67 said...

have a read thru this http://www.breasthealthcancerprevention.com/Breast_health_Mammograms.htm

you may find it helpful..i;m 43 and have not had a mammo and ain't getting one for no good reason

Anonymous said...

The reason why mammograms are more effective after 50, is breast density - which decreases as we grow older. Dense breasts can reduce the accuracy of a mammogram; so this might be a factor to consider if/when testing before age 50.

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/on-women/2008/05/13/you-might-need-an-ultrasound-with-that-mammogram

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120470428

Stephanie said...

I cannot believe how many health care providers are on the mammogram band wagon. You's have to screen thousands of women over 10 years to save one life. Here's something everyone should read about the politics behind this money making scam.

http://www.preventcancer.com/losing/acs/wealthiest_links.htm

Those of you who do say no to mammograms- what language do you use in your refusal? Do you state your reasons or just avoid the appt. Curious to hear.

ZZZ said...

Deborah Rhodes gave a great TED talk about a new screening method which is 3x better than mammograms, especially for women with dense breast tissue. Give it a listen:
http://www.ted.com/talks/deborah_rhodes.html

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