My first thought when I heard the new recommendations regarding mammograms and a self breast exam was, “Have they lost their minds?” Then it was “Why?”
What possible reason could these people have for making this recommendation? It made absolutely no sense to me. I was a nurse for 23 years and know that most women who get breast cancer do not have a family history, do not smoke, and are not those that you would consider “at risk”. I also know that women who get breast cancer and are under the age of forty usually get a more aggressive type of breast cancer.
The earlier breast cancer is found, the better prognosis for the man or woman who has it. Self breast exam is the only way for a person under the age of 40 to find a lump, so why would someone come out and recommend that we stop doing this life saving practice? It boggles the mind.
I, being one of those typical stubborn nurses, did not have a mammogram at forty. I waited until I was fifty. I did not have a baseline to which the radiologist could compare my mammogram and so I had to have several mammograms done, plus an ultrasound, all because I have cystic breasts. To me, they feel normal. I have always done self breast exams, and have felt nothing unusual in them, but my ob/gyn says they are “lumpy”. She is not concerned about this as long as it is nothing unusual for me. If I had done the mammogram, though, at forty, I would not have had to go through a few weeks of very emotional waiting for an all clear from the radiologist. If he had recommended a biopsy to be sure, I would not have hesitated for one moment.
These people who made these recommendations gave reasons such as extra tests such as ultrasounds and biopsy’s being done unnecessarily for lumps or cysts such as I have. I was fifty. I would have had the same thing done if it was done at forty or thirty, and nothing would have changed it. This is just the way my body is made. These are my lumpy breasts. I would rather go through all of that and know for sure than not have it done and find out down the road that I had cancer and no one cared enough to do further testing.
If they made these stupid recommendations to save money, then in my humble opinion, they are way off base. What costs more? A few more mammograms and biopsies, or lengthy chemo or radiation treatments because the cancer was not detected early on and has advanced so far that it is a stage 3 or 4 and has spread throughout the body. What about the emotional cost to the patient, family and friends as they watch their loved one suffer and die from a disease that could have been treated if caught earlier?
I am angry. This is so wrong. Yes, they have changed their minds, but my God, what possessed them in the first place to make such a stupid, boneheaded recommendation in the first place? That is the question I want to know. This “We want people to talk with their doctor’s and follow their recommendations” answer is not good enough. I think we already do that. When will the patient come first?