This is going to pinch a bit

Without getting into the very personal and emotional merits of arguments on all sides, what interests me about the news federal panel recommends reducing number of mammograms is that lots of consumers have been talking about this for years. Fifteen years ago, I remember reading the impassioned arguments of some in the breast cancer world that routine mammograms for younger women were causing more harm than good and that medicine still didn't have reliable ways to tell a dangerous cancer from one that would never cause harm.

I got pretty sharp rebukes from two gynocologists during my 40s when I questioned my yearly mammogram prescriptions.

I can think of another women's health issue, HPV testing and cervical cancer, where I was bringing information to gynecologists about it for years and being looked at like a nut before the recommendations changed and all of a sudden I was a forward-thinking nut. This, of course, bought me no extra credibility when I brought up other issues. Like eating disorders. But I digress.

This is not to say that every innovative or contrary idea - especially the defeatist conspiracy-theory anti-establishment doctors-are-trying-to-kill-us stuff - has merit. But it is a reminder that consumers need to combine clinical consultation with a good personal grounding in science and wide reading in healthcare. Being a good consumer sometimes means deciding to say "no," seeking second opinions, and speaking up. Until all doctors give the same stellar and universally correct advice, we still have to be smart consumers.


  1. I agree on the need to be informed. And being particular about information, at that.

    I have to admit that I'm amused by this huge news story. My gyn (whom I adore) and I have been arguing steadily over my stubborn refusal to get a mammogram for three years now. Now we can declare a truce for another seven years at least! (Well, for the mammogram question anyway. No doubt we'll go head to head over something else.)


  2. I know my "twins" will be feeling a lot less , from the news. You gotta see Anita Renfroe's take on having a mammogram, underwires, etc. it's hilarious.

  3. I have mixed feelings on this issue. Younger women can and do get breast cancer. My sister was diagnosed at 31 and died at 34 from the disease. My opinion is obviously biased. My sister ended up having a genetic predisposition, a BRCA2 mutation, which I also possess. We had no idea of the existence of this mutation in our family prior to her cancer diagnosis. Would a yearly mammogram have caught my sister's cancer before it progressed to stage IV, which is what it was by the time of diagnosis? I don't know.

    I had my breasts removed last year because I was tired of the screening, constant mammograms and MRIs and biopsies that turned out to be nothing (thankfully). The stress of the constant screening was enough for me to decide to get a mastectomy. So I do feel for women who are unnecessarily poked and prodded and made to worry about cancer.


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