Over the past month, the topic of mammography has been frequenting the headlines and political agendas of the media at large. This is coming at the same time as Health Reform is coming under heated debate. I am not here to give my opinion on the bill up for vote, rather, I would like to share a few thoughts on breast cancer prevention.
This has never been an easy topic for me, but grew increasingly more burdensome nearly eight years ago when my own mother was diagnosed. Since then I have been overly sensitive to the topic. A recent study resulted in new guidelines for mammography in the United States. The base age was pushed back to the age of 50 from 40 where annual screenings would be replaced with biannual ones.
My initial reaction to this news was nothing short of outrage. The radio report I heard explained that the reasoning behind this was that annual screenings were too much of an inconvenience for the patient. Discomfort, undue worry, things like that. Knowing my mother's experience, several explicatives came to mind about these cop-out reasons. Women, in my mind, need to be screened. Period. Screw the discomfort and "undue" worry. My mum would not be here without them.
Thanks to my good friend The Nurse, I have been given additional information, including the report in full, which I am in the process of reading. Because of this research, I now know the following. These guidelines are for the average case, meaning that the rate of screening for most women will really not change. Women with higher risks, such as myself, will still have access to annual screenings beginning at an earlier age. Mammograms are not being eradicated, but in a sense, being made available to more women by changing the standards.
Here's what I see to be the problem. Not enough women get checked. Lack of insurance, fear of the boob-vice, far reaching communities; any number of these things prevent a vast percentage of American women from getting screenings.
Here is my plea. Sisters, girls, cousins, aunts,daughters, grandmothers, mothers, friends, women-get checked. Find out what your risk level is. Speak to your physician about the matter. Know what options are available to you. There are too many options out there to not take advantage of them. While the nature of health care is changing, access to mammograms is still available. There are ways to beat this vicious disease, as these reports are proving. Use them. And if you can't get to a doctor for some reason, use the old-fashioned method and feel your boobies.
With all my heart,
the boob-loving engquist