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Breast Cancer Awareness
Longest Study Proves Mammograms Saves Lives
Women should have mammograms on their breasts to diagnose cancer. There is a new study, the longest one completed to date, that proves mammograms reduce breast cancer death by 30%. This three year long study was completed in Sweden. The study results proved that 1 breast cancer death can be prevented for every 414-519 women as compared to the previous 1000-1500 women in previous studies just be getting a regular routine mammogram.
While there is some over diagnosis which may lead to an invasive procedure, like a biopsy, it would seem that proving a lump is not cancerous is worth the risk. Robert Smith, the director of the American Cancer Institute considers screening for breast cancer to be a "very good investment." This study totally disproves the previous recommendation in the following paragraph.
Example of Self Exams
What are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer
The panel last year issued the changes for the frequency of mammograms and self examination is the United States Preventive Services Task Force. The panel changed the time for the first mammogram from 40 years of age to 50.
Also, they advised doctors not to teach women to examine their own breasts, saying the self-checks led to more imaging procedures and biopsies but did not reduce cancer deaths. Furthermore, the task force stated the new guidelines would “strike a better balance between the benefits of early cancer detection and the unnecessary anxiety and extra costs associated with false positives which sometimes result from the test” I wonder if they considered the anxiety of finding out you have untreatable advanced cancer because you didn't do exams and have mammograms?
Importance of Self Breast Exam
The United States task force includes a panel of experts and is funded and appointed by the government. Some of the members have been in place since the last administration. They did not include a oncologist or get input from the American Cancer Society before making their latest recommendation. This is the same organization that six months ago said the number of mammograms was declining and woman need to get them done. They are an independent panel of experts in primary care and prevention that systematically review the evidence of effectiveness and develop recommendations for clinical preventive services.
Prevent Breast Cancer
These new set of guidelines make no sense at all. The United States has a lower death rate than countries with socialized medicine. Mammograms miss about 10% of cancers, so the self exam is an important tool. Monthly breast exams find about 20% of breast cancers . You might find a lump or nodule which you immediately report to your doctor.
Mammograms and self breast exams are both important tools in prevention. I have two friends that were diagnosed with breast cancer based on finding a lump during a self breast exam. One had a very aggressive malignancy and had a double mastectomy followed by radiation and chemotherapy, which was four years ago. Both of these women are about 4 years out from their mastectomies with no sign of cancer. What if they hadn’t done that exam?
If you have a family member with breast cancer, get the BRAC test, which is a genetic DNA test that might save your live. If you test positive, your chance of getting breast cancer is significantly higher.
Exams Easy and Free
Breast exams are easy, painless and free. Women know the drill. Use the finger pads of your three middle fingers to palpate the breast. Raise your arm and make sure to check up under your armpits as there is breast tissue in that area. Then do the other breast. This can be done lying in bed or in the shower. It takes only a few minutes of time. You are looking for changes.
Women keep doing the exams! It is important to do an exam monthly. It helps to pick a date, like the first of the month, which will help you remember.
Good Books on Women's Health
Prevent Breast Cancer
So what motive does this panel have for telling women to stop these exams and to not get mammograms. They obviously are important prevention tools.
Both of these prevention tools are especially important if anyone in your family has had breast cancer, because you are at a higher risk. If a woman does monthly exams she will notice a changes. I can only assume these new recommendations are to not spend money by not utilizing your health insurance.
© 2009 Pamela Oglesby