On 11/16/09 the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force published an article in which among other recommendations they suggest that women in their 40s don’t need yearly mammograms and routine mammograms should start after age 50, and should be done every other year.
We are not a medical facility, but we are a durable medical equipment provider, and accredited institution, we feel that it is our job to mention to our readers our opinion about this article.
It is important to note, that while the standard recommendation is that women over 40 have their mammogram every other year, one third of these women will not take advantage of this screening tool due to various reasons, such as lack of access, education or awareness. It’s also appropriate to remember that only 10% of women with breast cancer have a family history of the disease.
Mammography is not yet the ideal and perfect tool for early diagnosis of breast cancer but it is the best we have at the moment and it has improved the survival rate over the past 20 years and that’s a fact. On the other hand we know very little of the biology of the cancer cells and more research needs to be done in this area. Without a doubt the article just raised more questions than answers.
We at the HERS Breast Cancer Foundation encourage ALL women to be proactive and aware of their breast health to understand their risks and to follow existing recommendations for routine screening, including mammograms beginning at the age of 40. We support and are in agreement with important organizations in our field such as the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure, the American Cancer Society and the American College for Radiology . Please visit www.komen.org for more information and to get more details on their recommendations.
The referred article also recommends against clinicians teaching women how to perform breast self-examination (BSE). We support researches that have proven that the breast self-examination alone is not a useful tool to decrease the mortality of breast But we cannot deny its importance as one more tool for the early detection. In this day and age when we are advocating for everybody to be more responsible and proactive to their own health how can we tell women not to do breast self-examination. The article claims that BSE would cause more anxiety and that it leads to unnecessary procedures.
We advocate in favor of BSE because we teach it as a way for a woman to know her normal breast, to be familiar with her normal breast tissue and then be aware of any change and go for professional assistance earlier.
This report was very important to remind us that we need to continue to engage in discussion with our care providers. We hope that the researchers will continue pursuing their studies to better understand the biology of breast cancer and to find a cure for this disease. In the meantime they need to constantly find better solutions to enhance the quality of the life of the survivors.