The recommendations, issued Monday by a federal advisory panel, reversed widely promoted guidelines and were intended to reduce overtreatment. The panel said the benefits of screening women in their 40s — saving one life for every 1,904 women screened for 10 years — were outweighed by the potential for unnecessary tests and treatment, and the accompanying anxiety. Women considered at high risk should continue to have early screening, the panel said.
My friend Mariana - aka the Liar, the Dude - was diagnosed this week with Stage 2 breast cancer and is now facing surgery, radiation, and chemo. She is 47. It was discovered in a routine mammogram. There is no incidence of breast cancer in her family.
The procedure is not pleasant, a mammogram, but it is not horrible, either. It takes less than 15 minutes, usually. Four shots are the norm - two of each breast from two different angles. It "wastes" about 90 minutes of your day, once a year.
If everything is well, about a week later you get a lovely letter saying so. In that week, I am not anxious over my results, largely because I perform a self-examination monthly so going into a mammogram with no noticeable lumps is hardly worrisome.
No, I see this as a cost-cutting measure with the government creating a "crisis" of "unnecessary tests and treatments" and needless anxiety where none exists.
“My patients tell me they can live with a little anxiety and distress but they can’t live with a little cancer,” said Dr. Carolyn Runowicz, director of the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Connecticut.