Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Breast Cancer testing should be left in MY hands..

I am 36 years old. I have had two mammograms in my lifetime. Both times they found a mass.

The first one was solved by a biopsy which came back benign. The second, only a sonogram was needed.

My grandmother died in her mid – 30’s from breast cancer, leaving behind three small children. That death spiraled into, an evil step-mother, my mother becoming a young mother and me/my brother ending up into foster care and eventually adopted by loving families.

One person’s death threw an entire family onto a path that no one expected and that death was caused by something that has an option for early detection.

Mammograms: Self Checks: Anything a woman can do to find out in advance in the hopes to save their life; they should have the right/option to. I think that mammograms should be offered at 35 for all women; however the age of 40 for women who have no history is a compromise that I am willing to make.

  • Self Breast examinations are FREE! They cost nothing but a little time. How can that be harmful? Because you might stress a little when you go to your doctor and say, “I feel something abnormal”. Isn’t that better than hearing the words, “We found cancer, and it’s too far along to do anything about?” How DARE this group come along and try to tell people that the examinations are non-productive? Yes, we might not know there is something there just by the feel of our fingers, but at least we are doing something. At least we are in control of OUR lives and OUR bodies.

This report information was taken from Digital Journal

“The report on their findings was published in the Nov. 17 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The report concludes that mammograms reduce the breast cancer death rate by 15 percent. However, this benefit must be balanced against the potential harm or risk. The New York TImes reports that the risk of harm is too great for women 40-49 to make the test beneficial for that age cohort:

Those [potential] harms loom larger for women in their 40s, who are 60 percent more likely to experience them than women 50 and older but are less likely to have breast cancer, skewing the risk-benefit equation. The task force concluded that one cancer death is prevented for every 1,904 women age 40 to 49 who are screened for 10 years, compared with one death for every 1,339 women age 50 to 74, and one death for every 377 women age 60 to 69.

For women over 49 the report recommends that mammograms only be done every second year rather than annually.

The Times notes that a false positive can create extreme anxiety and lead to other intrusive and ultimately unnecessary procedures such as biopsies. It also states, "mammograms can find cancers that grow so slowly that they never would be noticed in a woman’s lifetime, resulting in unnecessary treatment." “

Give me the week of anxiety, I’ve already had one biopsy and came out if it with nothing more than an upset stomach from the worrying. Even if the cancer grows slowly and would never be noticed, let ME have the choice on what I want to do with it. Because we never know what will grow slow or fast. I am not willing to put my life in the hands of the cancer; I want to make the choice for ME and MY family.

I want to fight breast cancer with an arsenal of weapons.

It is my body, my kids that will be left without a Mom, my siblings left without a sister.

I will continue to get mammograms every year and continue to get that knot in my stomach every October knowing its coming up. At least I know that I’m putting my best foot forward and taking control of my destiny.

This year I will walk again to help raise money to fight breast cancer, Want to join Team Pink Lily? I will be putting up the link sometime in 2010!

Thank you to the Colorado Breast Cancer doctors, American Cancer Society and the Susan G. Komen Foundation that are continuing to recommend mammograms at the age of 40.


Buffie said...

I'm not so good about doing my self exams, but my gyn does an exam as part of my annual visit. During this year's visit she found lumps and sent me for a mamogram and an ultrasound. My insurance did cover it because of a family history of breast cancer, but it was certainly a wakeup call for me to have to get a mamogram at such a young age. I'm only 32. Thankfully everything was fine, but my doctor is monitoring me closely now.

Tim said...

I meant to text you this last night when I heard about the study - people have been spitting nails about the implications of the findings.

It is important to note that the study looked at otherwise healthy women with NO family history of breast cancer. The findings are NOT meant to apply to people, like yourself, who are in high risk categories due to family history - recommendations for these groups have not (and will not) change, except possibly to trend towards the 'more frequent screenings' end.

I understand where the study authors are coming from, but it is a hard sell to tell women, "Yea, about that Breast Cancer scare we've been putting you through for the entirety of modern medicine? Never mind! Our bad."

All they've really said is that, in general, the detriments for women undergoing these exams outweigh the benefits provided until a certain age and that, because of this, they are altering their recommendations regarding preventative care.

Maybe I'm speaking out of turn because I'm not a woman, but that doesn't seem that out-of-line to me. It's a little shocking because it's a hard reversal from prior recommendations, but the response from various agencies and interest groups has been so vitriolic that you would have thought the study established some kind of law that prevented the treatment of breast cancer at all.

Lilith Silvermane said...

Tim - I totally appreciate you coming and thinking of me and writing about the recommendation from the panel.

I agree that it is out there for women who do not have a family history of breast cancer, however many statistics that I am reading are stating that half of the women being diagnosed with cancer have no family history of it at all.

• It has been estimated that 5 percent to 10 percent of breast cancer cases result from inherited mutations or alterations in BRCA1 and BRCA2.

• Other risk factors include inherited mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, a personal or family history of breast cancer, high breast tissue density, high-dose radiation to the chest wall, long menstrual history, never having given birth or giving birth for the first time after age 30, and biopsy-confirmed atypical hyperplasia.

(Information obtained from:

Now.. I will not excluded the findings that

• The greatest risk factor for developing breast cancer is gender (female) and the second is age. Between 2000-2004, 95 percent of new cases and 97 percent of breast cancer deaths occurred in women aged 40 and older.

However, those are deaths from breast cancer, that leads me to believe that the cancer screening should be prior to age 40. I do not know if the cause of death is because the cancer had spread too far by the time they find it, or if it is the age of the patient.

I understand that many complications are caused by treatment of a mass that might not ever grow bigger in a woman's lifetime, therefor (sp?) subjecting the patient to extreme measures that might further weaken the body, however without further studies in cancer we have no way of determining that.

Joanna said...

I have no family history of breast cancer and I am only 27 so I don't have yearly mams yet, but I was shocked by these new "rules" coming out. I saw it on the Today Show and thought why don't they leave it up to the woman.

Jadekitty said...

After reading this blog and the concerns she raises over what the ACS is saying. I would recommend reading it. I agree with you that we need to be aware of our body.

Anonymous said...


Painter Mommy said...

You are so right about staying up on the boobies. We have breast cancer in my family as well. Thanks for the reminder! Great post!


jolly said...

your blog is very nice,,,,,
Cloud Servies