Are the new ruling on limited Mammograms a blessing in disguise? Women throughout the country are justified in their angst concerning the New Mammogram Guideline Recommendations from the “Government Task Force.” This recommendation breaks with the American Cancer Societies’ long-standing position regarding early detection, and sound like a step backward in health care. It is a fact that detecting cancer early can mean the difference between life and death.
If mammograms are discontinued before the age of 50, how will early screening for breast cancer continue? What about arguments concerning false negatives and the panel’s advice that women shouldn’t be taught to do or use breast self examinations?
Don’t despair. There are solutions to these challenges. Now, more than ever before in breast cancer history, it’s important for women to listen to their bodies concerning health. It’s time to discover our inner-voices and self-advocate for the tests we need in order to survive. Medical tests we relied on for early detection may be a thing of the past. Our doctor’s hands may be tied by Hospital Policies that are cutting back on medical costs. We must depend on ourselves because we cannot depend on others to put our interests first and policies second. Education through word-of-mouth and the internet can be an invaluable tool. Four years ago a friend told me about the use of sonograms for breast cancer detection.
According to researchers at the University of Washington and Harvard Medical School, during a 10 year period, 1 out of 3 women had mammograms and breast exams which yielded images of breast cancer when none was actually present—false positives. Conversely, false negatives are common (up to 15%) with mammograms, especially in younger women who have dense breast tissue. However, the fear of a false negative is nothing compared to the panic attack associated with a missed positive. I can attest to this from personal experience. At ages 44 and 49, both of my breast cancers were missed on mammograms—missed positives—but found by self examination, and confirmed by MRIs. Our first line of detection should always be ourselves with self examinations, especially as our healthcare system continues to undergo changes. And, rather than systematically relying on mammograms for early detection, we should be looking at more reliable options such as Breast Sonograms.
The Power Color Doppler Ultrasound technology has been used as an alternative to Prostate Biopsy for years. One of the benefits of the Power Doppler Ultrasound is that it can be used as a mammogram alternative to monitor breast health and obtain clear, accurate breast cancer images. It can provide early and accurate images of most highly malignant breast cancers, resulting in life-saving early detection, diagnosis, and intervention.
According to the American Journal of Radiology, sonography detects four times as many cancers as physical examinations and twice as many cancers as mammography. Other advantages are that they can be repeated to closely monitor areas of concern during treatment. Additional benefits of Breast Sonograms are: • completely painless, safe, and non-invasive • no harmful radiation used during the procedure • inexpensive when compared with the costs of a mammogram or biopsy • requires no post-procedure medical care or recovery time.
If I’ve learned one thing these past years it is that you seldom get anywhere waiting for someone else to take action for you. Hoping someone else makes the right decision for you is a half plan missing a vital component and your biggest resource—You! Be a squeaky wheel until you are acknowledged, don’t take no for an answer, don’t settle for less, and don’t be dismissed. I am not beholden to medical or insurance associations. I don’t have a Ph.D. after my name, but I do have 14 years of cancer experience behind it. Help others by passing the word.
About the Author- Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos www.survivingcancerland.com is an agented author and has penned SURVIVING TRAUMALAND: The Intuitive Aspects of Healing. She is a phone counselor for the R.A. BLOCH Cancer Foundation, a mentor for WE CAN, a contributor to Cape Women Online Magazine, Twitter’s C4Women, Colette Baron-Reid’s Intuition Now, Examiner.com National, tweets@ http://twitter.com/PsycHealing FB http://SURVIVINGCANCERLAND.COM and is a volunteer for many cancer organizations and online cancer groups. She is currently working on her second book, SURVIVING RECURRENCE