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Screening Mammography Guidelines to Change

By November 16, 2009

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Start When You Are 50

The standard schedule of starting screening mammograms at age 40 may soon change, and breast cancer prevention strategies would be improved, according to the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. Women may not begin to have screening mammograms until they are 50, and they may cease doing breast self-exams altogether, if the newest guidelines for breast cancer screening from the USPSTF are widely adopted. In Canada and the United Kingdom, 50 is already the age at which screening mammography is begun. These new guidelines may have an impact on what health insurance providers will pay for.

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has updated its recommendations for breast cancer screening.  After using computer simulation models to project the results of different screening strategies, the task force said that they recommend the changes because they want to cut down on the "harms" and risks of testing, which they believe do not outweigh the benefits. They cite too many false positives, unnecessary biopsies, anxiety, or in short, overdiagnosis. Their November 2009 guidelines suggest:

  • Women between 40 and 49 years old should not be having routine screening mammograms.  Instead, they say that women should make an informed decision about screening mammography before 50, and weigh their potential risks and benefits with their doctors.
  • Women who are 50 to 74 years old should be having a screening mammogram every other year, because the risk for breast cancer increases as you age. 
  • Women over 74 years old are not given specific guidelines about routine screening mammography - as their risk of death from heart disease and other ailments is greater than from breast cancer.
  • Women of any age should not be taught to do breast self-exams, but BSE is not forbidden.
  • Clinical breast exams will not be required before screening mammograms, because CBE appears to add no benefit to the information gained from a mammogram.

In 2002, the USPSTF guidelines for breast cancer screening stated that women 40 and older should have annual mammograms to screen for breast cancer.  The American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute have also agreed on screening mammograms for women ages 40 to 70. The The American Cancer Society will maintain their recommendation to start screening mammograms at age 40.

Mammography is not a perfect tool and neither is a breast self-exam. But it seems odd to take away these two tools, which we have been told are important, for women aged 40 - 49. This same battle has been fought before, in the mid-1990s. It was resolved by 1997, when the National Cancer Institute agreed to support mammograms for women in their forties.

In an editorial published in Annals of Internal Medicine, Dr. Karla Kerlikowske says that the focus should shift from screening and early detection to breast cancer prevention interventions.  But for this to be effective, Dr. Kerlikowske says that we need a better risk model, more research on prevention, and standards "for routinely assessing risk factors, calculating breast cancer risk, and reporting risk to women and providers in an easily understandable format." Couldn't we wait, until more research has been done, before we change screening guidelines? Won't women be more at risk for ten years of their lives, if they are not having a mammogram and doing their self-exams?

I'm all in favor of better prevention - but I want it to include lifestyle changes, diet recommendations, exercise programs, and ways to detoxify your environment, as well as better breast imaging technologies and guidelines, and better risk assessment.  Yes, I still want The Cure - but I want to prevent breast cancer even more - so that someday soon, nobody will have to hear the words, "You have breast cancer."

How do you feel about these guidlines changing? Would you give up your monthly BSEs? Leave a comment below and tell me what you think.

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November 16, 2009 at 5:56 pm
(1) Laura says:

I don’t get it. How is breast cancer supposed to be discovered if no one is looking for it? Accidentally? I’m truly just mystified.

November 16, 2009 at 8:25 pm
(2) Gretchen says:

just saw this new stuff on the news…gonna generate a lot of talk & controversy. Even Susan Love supports these new guidelines, she a pretty impressive proponent. We’re hi risk, Pam, so we continue w/our yrly mamos.

November 16, 2009 at 10:38 pm
(3) shelly says:

I am a 48 year old with stage IIIa grade 3 (meaning very aggressive)Triple negative breast cancer. If I had waited till 50 for Mamo. I would be dead! My husband,five children & grandchild would be on their own. All because some people in suits think they know it all. Let the Doctors use their brains to help people, not just a bunch of goverment guidelines. Through my treatment all I heard was “Standard of Care” I want better!

November 16, 2009 at 10:54 pm
(4) RObin says:

UFB – self exam saved me at 46….I hate that a Fed Panel is deciding what is “correct” for us so a public option plan has some cost controls….lets postpone prostate and testicular testing too and see where that hits them!!!

November 16, 2009 at 11:01 pm
(5) Deb says:

Looks like we already have those “death panels” in the good ole’ USA

November 16, 2009 at 11:21 pm
(6) Susan says:

I recommend a lobotomy for the Task Force members for suggesting breast self examinations should not be taught. That’s how my friend found her breast cancer at 49. SHE HAS STAGE 4 BREAST CANCER!

November 16, 2009 at 11:56 pm
(7) concerned says:

This is ridiculous. I just read there are a few foreign countries that also follow these guidelines…countries with insurance provided by the government…sound familiar.

I am a radiology transcriptionist. I cannot tell you how many true postive breast biopsies/pathologic confirmations I have transribed on women under the age of 50. Women insist on a yearly mammogram at the age of 40.

I have had anxiety waiting for a result…I was fortunate a negative result, but next time I may not be as fortunate. Women are tough..anxiety is just part of life that we have to deal with every single day. I would rather be anxious waiting for a report than anxious for years thinking I cannot have a LIFE-SAVING mammogram as recommended by the American Cancer Society.

Also, if you have very very dense fibrocystic breasts ask your physician to also order a breast ultrasound.

November 17, 2009 at 1:58 am
(8) Tory says:

My mom’s breast cancer was found on her annual mammogram, 1cm, stage one, no lymph nodes involved.
Two years later, she is doing fine. As a mammography technologist, I have found cancers at much later stages, and the outcome is often not good. Interesting how these new guidlines coincide with “health care reform”. Many women who dislike having mammograms will take this to heart and postpone this potentially life-saving exam. No, it isn’t perfect, but at least gives us a chance to find cancer early. Oh, and how many mammographers will lose their jobs when fewer women get mammograms?
How will that help the economy Mr.Obama?

November 17, 2009 at 5:51 am
(9) Patty says:

If these are the guidelines, my sister would not be around today. She is 56 years old. According to the new guidelines she would have a mammogram evry other year. By having a mommogram annually, they were able to detect her breast cancer. She has HER2. This is a very aggressive form of cancer.

Thank God she has her mammograms every year. She lives a healthy lifestyle, so the lifestyle changes do not factor in to prevention for my sister and many other women.
I feel the task force is way off the mark and that it is part of the president’s new health plan. I think it is going to put so many people at risk and you will see the increased rates of cancer and every other illness, amd as a result more people will die.
I will also say that when any of these people on the task force are diagnosed with an illness with these guidelines, they will then want to change the rules, oh excuse me, people on these task force or government officials do not follow the same rules on health care.
Something needs to change. People need to be aware of the changes going on. Since when does a task force make your decisions for health care? Oh I forgotinsurance companies do that every day. They make the decisions whether ot not you are worthy for treatments that may cost alot of money.
hang on to your hats people, it will only get worse.

November 17, 2009 at 8:25 am
(10) KATHY says:

This is only the start. They want to change the guidelines before the govt. takes over health care so it won’t look like it was Obama’s fault. What’s a few lives when the govt. can save some money on health care anyway? If mammograms aren’t accurate enough, why not dump some money in new technolgy that is more accurate? Wouldn’t that save more money in the long run and save lives? As far as Obama and his task force, I’m not taking any medical advice from a man who refused to be by his own mom when she was dying of uterine and ovarian cancer (another female disease). I’ll let the American Cancer Society make my recommendations, not the govt.

November 17, 2009 at 9:49 am
(11) Wendy says:

I am very upset about this. I am 41 and a 7 year breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed two months after my 34th birthday. MY CANCER WAS FOUND BY A SELF BREAST EXAM. So to here these idiots say to stop doing them just rips at my heart. If I hadn’t being doing them and getting yearly check ups, my daughter, who was 1 at the time would be with out her mother today. If we set by and don’t take a stand, there will be alot of children without their mothers, husbands without wives, mothers without daughters… Wake Up America!!! When we start following countries, that given the chance their people would come to America to get treatment, we are no longer the AMERICA that we should be.

November 17, 2009 at 10:45 am
(12) Isobel Swartz says:

Frankly I think it’s all about cost containment and once again women are on the front line. Think how much a mammogram costs. Just one less thing for insurance or Federal programs to pay for. I am really disappointed to see this be the first obvious effort to control medical costs

November 17, 2009 at 10:08 pm
(13) Dean Gerber says:

My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer (advanced DCIS) upon her first mammogram 2 years ago at age 40. No family history, no other risk factors. Her sister and mother had both had the BRCA test done and were negative, her mother was just diagnosed with breast cancer after mammography this February.
The experts would call my wife’s case “anecdotal evidence.”

November 18, 2009 at 8:55 am
(14) kathryn Fellows says:

Hasn’t anyone ever heard of Thermography? Non invasive infrared imaging of the breast. Detects problems at least 10 years before mammography. And no flattening of the breast as if you had a 50 lb. weight pressing on you.

November 18, 2009 at 8:56 am
(15) Judy says:

My breast cancer wouldn’t have been found as soon as it was without self exams and mammograms.

November 18, 2009 at 8:56 am
(16) Mary Crews says:

I am so concerned about this mammogram change. Because of family history, I started getting mammograms at age 36. That was a blessing, because at age 38, the mammogram showed a mass – that was my first time being diagnosed with breast cancer – all because I had a mammogram. Then I had them annually. At age 43, as a result of mammography, I was diagnosed a second time, opposite side with two different spots – both being cancer. My life was saved by having mammograms! I hate the wording of this change “there aren’t enough women’s lives saved by having mammograms before age 40 to warrant the cost of mammograms”. Is there a better way to tell me my life wasn’t worth saving – come on now. I’m sure my family would tell you otherwise! Because I had mammograms in my 30′s – I am here today – and my life is worth it!

November 18, 2009 at 10:19 am
(17) Marjorie says:

What is most troubling in this situation is that nothing is being recommended that is better than mammography for women under 50. Although mammography failed to detect the breast cancer I had at age 45, the self breast exam did – 4 weeks after that mammogram. How sad is that?
Mammography is flawed but it’s all we have right now other than incredibly expensive MRIs. Let’s hope this mess spurs more research into more specific, earlier detection with infallible tests for women. We need to move upstream in this disease. Women deserve better.

November 18, 2009 at 10:27 am
(18) Robyn Edwardson says:

This is the most outrageous recommendation I have ever heard of. Mammograms, at the most, cost what $300? I was 39 the first time I was diagnosed and 49 the second time on the other side. So, if these guidelines were around then, I would be dead now. I am so thankful for my wonderful doctors who recognized my family history and had me get a baseline mammogram when I was in my early 20s. When I turned 30, we started doing them every other year. I know of so many woman younger than 50 who have had breast cancer. Our lives are not worth $300? Think again!

November 18, 2009 at 10:39 am
(19) linda says:

I am surprised it has taken this long for women to finally be told that mammograms are not the best way to detect cancer. For years it has been known that the radiation and compression coming from the mammograms is harmful to women and exactly what we should be avoiding. You also need to insist on covering your thyroid for any X-Rays. It was worse before digital mammos when womens’ breasts had to be radiated repeatedly to obtain pictures that did not come out the first, second or third time. The compression is also harmful if you logically think about it. If you have cancer cells or lumps why would you be forcefully squeezing them??
It surprises me also that in these articles no one mentions Thermography instead of mammography. Thermography has no radiation, works by sensing heat and is able to detect miniscule cancer cells that could never be found by a mammogram. And has anyone told women about I3C, a supplement that actually protects from breast cancer, or about Johanna Budwig, PhD’s diet,(look it up in the Internet) the German scientist who saved so many lives with her flaxseed oil and protein (cottage cheese, organic) protocol,(my mother was proof of that) or do we speak about NO ANTIPERSPIRANTS in your deodorant, or do we speak about how women must, must exercise their upper body (arms) to make sure the lymphatic system drains its toxins rather than deposit these poisons and have them accumulate in the lymph nodes or breasts? Ladies, save your lives, read on your own. Vitamin D3, NO ASPARTAME, NO DIET COKE,whatever you do, etc. it goes on and on. Women must not believe everything we read. Remember Hormone Replacement Therapy and what was done to so many women for years. Please do not forget that what you think and say to yourself every cell in your body is listening to. The role of stress and negative, depressive thinking has a direct consequence within, not only your mental/emotional state, but absolutely your physical state, down to the very cells and organs that you depend on for your existence. You must not be in constant negative thoughts. Take the time to meditate, take deep breaths, release the dark clouds, save your life. Wishing you well, Linda H. Burns, LCSW

November 18, 2009 at 11:22 am
(20) linda says:

I did not address the guidelines. I do think women should continue breast exams and should continue breast imaging, just not with an old-fashined mammogram but with thermography. Especially for so many of us whose mothers had breast cancer, we cannot become complacent. But to expose yourself on purpose to radiation?? There are other ways. Do think prevention must be taken more seriously. Prevent, read and become knowledgeable that what we eat, breathe, spray,inject, we absorb. At least be aware, open your mind…… learn and make up your own mind. You are responsible for your life. Linda H. Burns, LCSW

November 18, 2009 at 11:44 am
(21) Linda says:

I am almost like comment no. 11. I was in for a routine phyisical when my doctor found mine. It was inside the
breast. It hadn’t got very big. I was only 33 years old at
the time. So they did the surgery. They took out the cancer & lymnods. They came back negative. Iam now 53.
I have been cancer free for 20 years now. I just had two mammograms & a ultra sound. They said they found something. I am just hoping it is just scar tissue. Thanks
for hearing my story.

November 18, 2009 at 12:02 pm
(22) Kathie Daniel says:

This is the government’s way of preparing us for rationing! I was diagnosed last year with Stage 1 invasive DCIS. I wonder if these same guidelines will apply to Michelle Obama and her daughters? What about Nancy Pelosi? What about the other female lawmakers and the wives and daughters of male members of the senate and house? Do you think they will be waiting until they’re 50? I think not! One set of rules for them, another set being forced upon us!

November 18, 2009 at 12:06 pm
(23) Marilee Johnson says:

I am currently undergoing treatment for Stage 2 breast cancer that I found myself with self exam two months after a “clear” mammogram. The recommendation of not doing self exams is ludicrous! Who are these insane people?

November 18, 2009 at 2:42 pm
(24) Doris Addo-Glover says:

The recommendation for women not to be taught BSE is self-defeating for prevention. Just like any other part of your body, why should one ignore the teaching and therefore the practice of examining oneself for abnormalities? What kind of message is the Task Force putting out by making recommendations where both clinicians and women are discouraged from preventative methods. Even with the scientific basis for the recommendation, it appears to not take into consideration barriers to mammography such as: access,and race-specific concerns about breast cancer, particularly for African American women who have significant mortality from the disease and lower screening rates. BSE and mammography may not be the most effective means of detection, but I didn’t hear of any other detection strategies while we wait 10 years for an exam. What other options are there?

November 18, 2009 at 3:39 pm
(25) judy says:

I myself had breast cancer 3 and a half years ago and i really dont think they should do any woman that way because she could have breast cancer and not know it till she goes to her doctor.

November 18, 2009 at 4:16 pm
(26) Elizabeth says:

Thr single most negative outcome of this new policy is that it will lead to far more deaths among poor women – all women who live on the edge financially and socially. We haven’t even begun to do enough for these women; the occasional “free” mammogram bus isn’t enough.

Women who can pay $300, and are educated and aware of the risks will get the mammogram. Other women will die at a much higher rate, thus increasing the disparities which already exist.

In a “Cost-benefit” analysis the number-crunchers look only at numbers. They calculate many factors: the cost of starting mammograms at 40 instead of 50, the number of women under 50 who get breast cancer, the costs of treatment for women under 50 versus over 50. They must have also included a cost analysis of treating women with early stage cancer who are under 50 compared to the cost of treating cancers which are not found until the woman is over 50. One thing that this means is that cancers found after age 50 are very likely to be much further advanced, and thus harder to treat, thus increasing the number of women who will simply die. And after they die, they are no longer using health care dollars.

This makes no sense from our knowledge that preventive care definitely lowers health care costs. Also the more advanced the cancer is, the more dramatic and dangerous the treatment, leading to the costs of lost work, more people on Medicaid, etc.

It may also be that the pharmaceutical companies know that they will make much greater profits through the drugs used when the cancer has grown past the DCIS (no chemotherapy, usually) and non-invasive cancer (e.g. Stage 1). Past that usually multiple chemothrapy is needed, in addition to far more extensive, debilitating, demeaning and sometimes multiple surgeries.

They must also have looked at the costs of plastic surgery, which is now mandated by law to be available to all women who have had breast(s) removed. But if women die before they can access these services, no plastic surgery will be needed.

I work in health care; I know a lot about how policy is derived from data. I have had cancer twice in both breasts. I am not speaking of conspiracy here. My comment about drug companies profits is the only speculation, but a reasonable one based on what we know about the drug companies.

Every other point I have made is reduced to data, which is without human feeling. People are reduced to numbers. And after statistics are used, policy comes next. If it costs too much to save x number of women, the conclusion may well be that the benefit is simply not great enough to justify continued screening.

There is a great deal the federal government could do, since this is a nation-wide problem, not a state one. Taxes and and other incentives could be used to reward people who get their screening tests. And the feds could dictate to the pharmaceutical companies that they use a portion of their incredible profits for research: a vaccine, new tests for early development, etc. These companies argue that they have to get such huge profits in order to pay for further “research and development?”. I can’t believe the amount of money that was used to develope drugs for erectile dysfunction. Let them spend money on things which will benefit a much greater number of people.

Lastly, a personal appeal. Be mature, and encourage the people you know to stop and think before engaging is the criticism of President Obama. He has only been in office for TEN MONTHS! He started to work on changing health care immediately after the inaugaration. He has met with great resistance, and even racial slurs. He’s had to compromise, but any improvement is a start. Send an e-mail to your comgressman and senators, tell them what you want.

It can’t happen overnight, but change has begun. Support the politicians who are working to change the system. Thanks.

November 18, 2009 at 4:25 pm
(27) phoke says:

I have had a lump under one breast for approx. 5 years that a mamogram doesn’t seem to pick up. I had a sonagram done and it too, was ineffective in detecting the lump. The lump is there and I can feel it. How do I get the proper testing or test equipment to give me the peace of mind I deserve? My primary care physician speculated that perhaps it was just course, bumpy texture that occurs with some patient’s tissue and nothing more.

November 18, 2009 at 4:41 pm
(28) Renee says:

I don’t care what they say all women that are walking and breathing are at risk for breast cancer. I started having my mammo’s at 40. I recently was diagnosed with breast cancer just 2 weeks ago and it was found on a rountine YEARLY mammogram. I was lucky and it was caught early. I had a choice in my treatment and the insurance companies will get off a little cheaper because of it and I get to live a longer and more normal life. But, what if I had not had a mammo until I was 50 and had that cancer growing in me until then for 5 more years (because it definitely was not a tumor that could be felt by me or by my GYN or surgeon, it only showed on the mammo and MRI)? I would have metastasis and probably have a good chance of being dead or dying. This is what the new guidelines will do for those of us like me!!!!

November 18, 2009 at 5:28 pm
(29) Lowell says:

Here is a better solution and treatment for breast cancer, and also prevention. My website also details the raw food diet; that includes juicing. Getting the bodies ph back into the slightly alkaline state and detox are the key to beating and preventing breast cancer. There are endless testimonials and as to many kinds of cancer, and more; using this knowledge.

Article: What I Learned From Breast Cancer.

November 18, 2009 at 5:57 pm
(30) Emily says:

I am currently a graduate student in clinical psychology. My passion is to work with women who are breast cancer survivors and improve quality of life during/after treatment. I am conducting my dissertation research study in the area of breast cancer survivors and predictors of depression. I believe that the mind and body should be treated simultaneously.

I am seeking women breast cancer survivors between the ages of 18 and 80 to participate in my study investigating the predictors of depression. Eligibility includes completion of initial breast cancer treatment within the last 4 years. You will be compensated for your time with a small cosmetic gift bag, as well as entry into a drawing for one of two prizes following completion of the study: $100 cash prize or a spa gift certificate.

If you are interested in participating or would like more information please contact me at:

Emily Meier



I am located in San Diego, CA, however, it is possible for participation outside of San Diego.

I think it is important that we don’t forget survivors in the fight against breast cancer! More research is needed to understand what difficulties breast cancer survivors may experience after diagnosis and treatment.

November 18, 2009 at 8:10 pm
(31) patti says:

I had breast cancer In August, just got done with chemo and getting ready to have radation. My breast cancer was detected with a breast MRI and was never seen on any of my mammogram’s..even the diagnostic one. I was lucky, it was caught very early. I have dense breasts, so mammo’s are not much use to me

November 18, 2009 at 8:59 pm
(32) Shannon R. says:

I can’ t believe these new guidelines. Self exams are worthless? I am 27 and was just diagnosed with breast cancer…that I found on self exam.

November 18, 2009 at 9:38 pm
(33) Mary says:

I am over 50. I do get mammograms every year. I do this close to my birthday. I never forget and it is a celebration. This year, one year since my last mammogram, they found a mass. A biopsy was done and I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately it was caught early and had a lumpectomy and am undergoing radiation treatments. If i had to wait for 2 years the cancer would have spread more and my children and grandchildren could be looking at a very ill woman. Ummm, my life is too important for a group of people who took a small sampling and decided to change the rules and sacrifice women’s lives. So now we are going to have to battle with insurance companies to get the care that is needed.

November 18, 2009 at 10:15 pm
(34) Elizabeth says:

Answering (27) phoke: You should have already been sent to a surgeon (preferably one who specializes in breast $ general ob-gyn surgery). You need to have other imaging studies, not just a mammogram, but an MRI at least. But whatever else is done, the only way to definitely say if it is or is not cancer is a biopsy. This can be done with a needle, which is inserted into the mass and withdrawn with a small piece of tissue. Or it can be done by making a small incision and taking out the lump and a small amount of tissue with it. The incisional biopsy is by far the better way. I had had a cyst in my breast since I was a teenager, which swelled during ovulation and got much smaller once I started menstruating. I had had mammograms yearly, but I knew if any mass was there, the mammogram might not “see” it. I went to a surgeon, who drained the cyst, and sure enough, there was a mass behind the cyst. You have a right to further diagnostic procedures, given your history. If your primary care doctor refuses to give you the referral, complain (in writing, as well as on the phone), and get another doctor. Keep copies of all letters, and notes on every phone/email contact. Make sure to date & time everything, and always ask anyone you speak to for their name and employee number. They record these conversations “for training purposes”, but they are on the record for you, too. If you can give the name of the person you spoke to, as well as the exsct date and time, the record of your conversation can be found.

Remember, in our current system, primary care MDs (basically the person you have to go to before you can go to anyone else) are often given bonuses based on their referrals to specialists or expensive tests. The fewer patients who are referred, the more money the doctor makes. Good luck.

November 19, 2009 at 3:38 am
(35) DIANE says:

Well I will tell you this I would not be around if I did not have my mammogram when I turned forty. I should of had one done sooner but brease self examine and the doctor office examine showed nothing. My doctor was not even going to send me for a mamogram but said you know what go ahead thats when we found problems in both breasts

November 19, 2009 at 5:57 am
(36) ifeoma says:

i am 37 and my friend (the same age)had her left breast removed last year. As iam writing this she has gone back to her doctor b/cos a growth was discovered in one of her ovaries. If has stayed up to 50 where would that leave her?

November 19, 2009 at 6:48 am
(37) Lynn Roodbol says:

I agree with you Pam – prevention is the ultimate goal, but we need to keep CBE, BSE, and mammography until we all know how to prevent breast cancer.
I believe prevention is a mind-body experience and includes good nutrition, exercise, sleep, deep relaxation, and stress management. I learned these lessons when I had Stage II breast cancer and colon cancer in 1987; I have been cancer free for 22 years.
I believe the key is to get women to take good care of themselves FIRST so they are in their best possible state of wellness, and are then better able to care for others.

November 19, 2009 at 8:54 am
(38) Shari says:

The panel is listed on this web site…..


November 19, 2009 at 10:18 am
(39) Lisa Fayed says:

I am definitely NOT tossing out my monthly BSEs!!!!! During my last clinical breast exam, the nurse practitioner found what she thought was a lump. I felt it and knew it was part of my rib. Had I not been doing monthly breast self exams, then maybe I would have thought it was a lump, too. This would have lead to unnecessary imaging test and SO MUCH WORRY! Ladies, the more we know about our bodies, the more proactive we can be in our healthcare!

November 19, 2009 at 12:43 pm
(40) Ben says:

MediaCurves.com conducted a study among 600 about the new guidelines released by the Preventive Services Task Force of the Department of Health and Human Services recommending against regular mammography tests for women under 50 years old. Results found that the majority of physicians (78%) reported that they do not agree with the new guidelines. Furthermore, the majority of physicians (78%) also reported that the advice they give to patients will not change based on the new Preventive Services Task Force of the Department of Health and Human Services guidelines.
More in depth results can be seen at:

November 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm
(41) Elle says:

BSE’s are most iportant provided one knows how to do them. I found my breast cancer early that way, and sure enough all the tests showed it up. But thanks to BSE I found it early, and had only a lumpectomy, with no spread to lymph nodes. I am monitored now each year with mamogrammes and ultrasound, and at the end of November am a five year survivor. Please, Self examine whatever your age. I am 79 now, but that makes no difference. It can hit any age. God bless everyone.

November 19, 2009 at 4:19 pm
(42) Nancy says:

Some thoughts about the new quidelines. Can the last bullet in this article –

Clinical breast exams will not be required before screening mammograms, because CBE appears to add no benefit to the information gained from a mammogram —

be correct? What kind of logic is this?

I’d also be interested in knowing how many women age you ger than age 50 are at higher risk but do not know it, as was my case. Cancer used to be something no one talked about, so knowing one’s family history was not possible.

November 19, 2009 at 10:05 pm
(43) Janet says:

Aside from the fact that women may die from this proclamation, what bothers me is that I believe that this was motivated by politics and money. They are the evil forces in this world. Life cannot be about Obama and the government making medical decisions…that’s MY call after consulting with MY doctor. Saving money by not performing these tests … you are kidding, right? How much was spent on bailing out businesses?! Where is this “saved” money going to go? I’m guessing that it will go towards programs for the illegal aliens…let’s see, welfare, WIC, food stamps, job and school tuition preferences. Where will this idiocy all stop?! I am truly scared for my life and the lives of other women. I have had cancer. That didn’t scare me as much as the government regulating MY medical decisions. Wake up, folks. This country is in serious trouble. We as women are in serious trouble. We as citizens are in serious trouble. For the first time in my life, I am scared for my life and my future.

November 20, 2009 at 1:13 pm
(44) Annie says:

And so the backlash against pending healthcare reform begins, and of course they start by attacking women. If anyone needs proof big insurance and the federal government don’t give a rat’s backside about anything but profit, they need look no further than all these new “guidelines” being released “coincidentally” at this time of healthcare reform. Because guaranteed, somewhere this was driven by private insurance lobbyists. Fearful they will no longer make billions of dollars in profit, they are now going to cut back at the expense of human life, and why not start with women, since they’re already taking away abortion. Where are the guidelines telling men no more prostate exams?

November 20, 2009 at 3:54 pm
(45) alison critchlow says:

if i had waited until i was called for mammogram at 50 ,
my cancer would have had 2 extra years to grow.i found lobular cancer myself in 2005.this is apparently difficult to detect.would i be dead now if i hadnt noticed breast changes myself? who knows?we need as many ways of detecting all kinds of cancers as possible

November 21, 2009 at 3:31 am
(46) Nyla Lyons says:

In addition to diluting the importance of women in general undergoing regular and early screenings, the US Preventive Services Task Force recommendations have ignored Black Women ALTOGETHER. Historically, feminist groups have lobbied for the needs of women in general; while black women have received little or no attention. This trend is still evident today. Consider the facts:
Black women (35 to 44 years) are twice times more likely to die from breast cancer than white women in the same age group. Black women tend to develop a more aggressive form of cancer and are diagnosed with later stage breast cancers more frequently than other groups. Compounded by a lack of timely access to mammograms and when diagnosed— delays in treatment!

November 22, 2009 at 2:25 pm
(47) Dr. Wilson says:

As Nyla Lyons says above, black women have less access to timely mammograms, which is living proof of what will happen when mammograms are rationed to the point where they are only available, other than those rich enough to pay their own way, to be routinely performed every two years instead of every year – there will be more advanced cancers, and more deaths, as is the case with black women already. I wonder why the panel didn’t take *this* evidence into consideration while analyzing all their scientific research on what screening methods are most cost-effective! Don’t they know that black women have more deaths and more advanced cancers *because* of less frequent mammograms?

Such panels analyze cost data on one bottom line: how much money does it take to save one life? Apparently they’ve decided our country’s resources are too scarce – or there’s too much outcry about the costs of medical care – to save as many lives as possible, so they’re willing to sacrifice some of those “more expensive” lives – those women under age 50, for the sake of the country’s balance sheet. That’s a very cold way to calculate *anything* and a sad commentary on what our society values – material possessions and balance sheets over people being allowed to live full, productive lives, and shows how far we’ve slipped in this country. First the life of an unborn child is allowed to be taken for the sake of convenience and a balance sheet (the bank account of the woman who can’t afford to raise that child.) The next step, as manifested by this officially sanctioned “death panel,” will be counting the cost of the lives of those who are already born, and trading that cost in for a better bargain for those who are not diseased – basically trimming those with disease from the population to save costs, to “slim down” society so only those fit to live and with low costs can afford to live. What’s next, genetic engineering to let only a “favorable” subsegment of the population be born? Why does our society not value life as it once did, and why is it too much trouble to save the life of *everyone* who can be saved, no matter what the cost?

November 24, 2009 at 5:17 pm
(48) Margery says:

I am concerned about the possibility of discontinuing mammograms for women over age 75. I was diagnosed stage IV bilateral breast cancer at age 74.

November 24, 2009 at 8:33 pm
(49) Jamie says:

This screening is all crap!!! All women should be screened starting in their early 20′s!! I got breast cancer at 27, and if they would of been screening me prior, they would of caught it in the early stages!! Now fear I live!! Breast cancer is the most aggressive in young women and we are the ones that die from this diease!! And we are not screened!! ALL WOMEN SHOULD BE SCREENED!!!

November 25, 2009 at 1:24 pm
(50) Mary says:

What I have learned that this “So Called Task Force” were using old studies to come up with this absolutely crazy recommendation!
also, if you look up who is on this panel you will see that have Partner Members in which there are Insurance Representatives. As far as I am concerned we have any number of individuals who want to terriorize us!

November 25, 2009 at 3:13 pm
(51) Mariam says:

I’m 49. When I was 48m y ob/byn found a lump in my right breast during a clinical breast exam as part of my annual appointment. This was confirmed by ultrasound (mammmography did not pick up my lump, but it led me to the ultrasound that did). However, I support both self and clinical breast exams as well as mammograms starting at age 40. I have since had surgery, chemo and radiation with good outcome and believe I would be dead if my ob/gyn had not routinely examined me.

November 26, 2009 at 12:18 pm
(52) jeffrey dach md says:

The mainstream media has opposed the revised mammogram guidelines with appeals to emotion rather than evidence based medicine. Kathleen Sebelius, for example, appeared on national television advising women to ignore the recommendations of her own Department’s task force panel. All of these opposing views avoid discussing the real problem with screening mammography.
For More:

November 26, 2009 at 7:38 pm
(53) Dr. Wilson says:

I just read the original article which Dr. Dach linked to (at http://www.annals.org/content/151/10/716.full.pdf+html) and here is the bottom line it describes. If just women ages 50-70 are screened (every two years, which provides “70% to 99% of the benefit of annual screening”) deaths will be 17% lower than if they are not screened with mammograms. If you add ages 40-49 to the screening pool, that improves the number by 3% to be 20% fewer deaths than if there was no screening. If you add woman from ages 70-79 that adds another 7% benefit, for 27% fewer deaths than if nobody got screened.

You tell me – is a result of 27% fewer deaths better than 17% fewer deaths if they only screen ages 50-70?

No brainer! Screen the age group of 40-49, screen the 50-70 age group, and screen the 70-79 year old age group! Why let ANYBODY die from lack of screening?

I’m a cancer doctor (radiation oncologist) and the number of women in their 30′s I’ve seen with breast cancer in the last 25 years numbers in the dozens. Those in their 40′s numbers in the hundreds. Go figure. Are we going to save the lives of these women or not?

March 10, 2010 at 11:01 am
(54) Erin says:

My grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer in her fourties. My mother died of breast cancer when she was only 39 years old. I am at a very high risk of breast cancer. These new guidelines are scary to thin kabout women not having a yearly mamogram screening. How else would they be able to detect it?

September 25, 2010 at 8:07 pm
(55) Laura-ThinkDon'tPink says:

Firstly- Everyone here should sign up for Dr Susan Love MD’s “Army Of Women”. We get emailed studies on BC Prevention, Diagnosed, and Post BC, and volenteer for the studies in our area. Dr. Love is a former Professor/BC Surgeon UCLA/Foundation CEO/ and a 31 yr pioneer in BC. Brilliant! She is working on a Breast “pap smear” so to speak.

Also watch her Women At Risk Luncheon Speech online. We all have cancer cells, it’s the “neighborhood that “eggs” them on to misbehave. She gave one heck of an informative speech. I adore and respect her. What a goal, solving BC!

Dr. Elizabeth Boham MD (RD BC Survivor at 30 prior to Med School)has an 8 minute video on how to keep it from coming back (the best you can)and how to prevent it. She and Dr. Mark Hyman parctice Functional Medicine at the UltraWellness Ctr. Dr Boham connected the dots on Insulin/Estrogen/Fat Cells-Aromatase/Exercise/Carbs. Amazing info.

The heck w/Hollywood, give the real BC movers and shakers the red carpet. (I live in the Los Angeles area.)

November 5, 2010 at 3:49 am
(56) J Bolton says:

So very wrong!!! My daughter is 42 and was just diagnosed with breast cancer. She leads a healthy lifestyle as for diet and exercise and has only one paternal relative with breast cancer, her father’s half sister diagnosed at age 68. There are a large group of young women with breast cancer, so large that there is a national support group for them. These new screening guidelines would have insured the death of my daughter and many like her who would not have been diagnosed until the cancer was in the later stages.

August 10, 2011 at 8:48 am
(57) mohana says:

I feel every woman should make an informed decision whether she wants to perform a BSE or ask a professionally qualified personnel to perform CBE. It is not right for any orgnization, country or NGOs to say that BSE is not necessary. Think about all the under-developed countries, where modern technology is unaffordable and unreachable due to their geographical locations. The WHO should look into that first.

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