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Not too long ago, recommendations for the age at which women began getting mammograms changed. The thought was that mammograms starting at age 40 were perhaps causing more harm than good with unnecessary biopsies, anxiety and costs.

My gut reaction was to think that was ridiculous, but I could see their point.

But the next part flabbergasted me. It was suggested that women also not spend too much time examining their own breasts, and instead allow the professionals to do it.

Now really... I know a few of us might be quick to assume that every abnormality is serious and scary, but being familliar with our own breasts, and checking them regularly, just seems to make sense. We need to be proactive about our own health, people, because the doctor is not going to call each month just to 'check in'. 

Thoughts on this?

Katie from SLN asked this
July 13, 2011 at 3:09 PM



Whaaaat? That definitely seems strange. What reasons did they give?

I think all women who have caught their cancer early because they were regularly checking their own breasts might beg to differ...

Laura Hogg answered
July 13, 2011 at 3:17 PM

Well, the new recommendations were from a gov't group, though the American cancer Society does not agree with them. I think they're sticking with the mammogram after 40, self-exam route.

I assume the decision has to do with cost effectiveness. More women getting mammograms means more women needing biopsies that might have benign results. And the anxiety of waiting for results can do some harm as well.

But, like you said, cancers that HAVE been caught might just trump that for a lot of women. I know that I generally prefer to go through tests if I suspect something...

Katie from SLN answered
July 13, 2011 at 3:22 PM

Hmmmm. Well, I figure, if a woman wants to have the test done - what do the doctors care, as long as she pays for it? If I discovered an abnormality, that's not the sort of thing I'd want to mess with.

My mom was actually diagnosed with breast cancer a couple years back. It turned out that she actually had stage 0 cancer, so it technically wasn't cancer yet, or something weird like that. But though she opted not to take the anti-cancer drug (the side effects were rather alarming), it has made her be more on the lookout, since she could develop cancer. I'm so grateful that she went through the tests, because it could prevent something much worse down the road.

Laura Hogg answered
July 13, 2011 at 3:28 PM

Agreed. A friend of mine's mom also had stage 0 breast cancer a few years ago, and it made go extreme vegan, and she's like 60 and doing really well, so talk about changing your ways...

Have you ever heard of this book?

The mom I was talking about read it, as did my own mother-in-law when she had cancer. Sadly, we ended up losing her to an infection from the surgery - it was insanely complicated and invasive abdominal surgery. The thing is, before the infection started, she was doing incredibly well considering the severity of her cancer. She really believed in the diet/exercise approach this book talks about.

It's got specifics for a variety of cancer types, and is a pretty interesting read:)

Katie from SLN answered
July 13, 2011 at 3:36 PM

I've never heard of that book before - it sounds fascinating, though! I'll definitely have to pass that along to my mom. She's been a lot more health-conscious lately, and while I don't see her going extreme vegan, I think she would definitely get a lot out of that book.

Laura Hogg answered
July 14, 2011 at 7:41 AM
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