Wednesday, November 18, 2009

50 is the new 40

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force has decided that routine mammograms should start at 50, not the original 40. The group is comprised of 16 healthcare experts. However, no oncologists are present on the task force. Women under 50 should weigh the pros and cons of getting mammograms because of the risks and anxieties caused by a false positive.

My thinking, and certainly every woman’s mileage may vary, is “better safe than sorry”. I would much rather have a biopsy in my forties, even if it is a false positive, than have one in my fifties and find out I have advanced cancer because I didn’t get it done in my forties. Catching it early is so important that I would think it would be worth the anxiety caused by a false positive. Women aren’t fragile little flowers that must be protected from“psychological harms.” We can deal with the stress, if it means saving our lives.

Women who get breast cancer in their thirties and forties do exist (see the article linked below), and that to me is enough to keep the age at 40 (or even lower it) statistical significance be damned.
The American Cancer Society will not change their guidelines, and I think I’ll go with the group that has worked to eliminate various forms of cancer since 1913 (as the American Society for the Control of Cancer) over a task force with 16 members, government or no.

Read Kathleen Reardon’s piece in the Huffington Post, she was diagnosed at 32.

What do you think?

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