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Docs group urges mammograms every year starting at 40
July 20th, 2011
05:12 PM ET

Docs group urges mammograms every year starting at 40

In an effort to reduce breast cancer deaths, especially in young women, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists  on Thursday updated its breast screening guidelines.

The primary change is that now the doctors say mammography screening should be offered annually to women beginning at age 40. The previous ACOG guidelines recommended women have mammograms every one to two years, beginning at age 40 and then receive them every year, beginning at age 50.

This is in stark contrast to the recommendations made by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force almost two years ago. It recommended women in their 40s should not get routine mammograms. The group, which was made up of 16 health care experts, none of whom were oncologists, suggested that before having a mammogram, women ages 40 to 49 talk to their doctors about the risks and benefits of the test, and then decide whether to be screened.

"All we are saying is, at age 40, a woman should make an appointment with her doctor and have a conversation about the benefits and harms of having a mammography now versus waiting to age 50," Dr. Diana Petitti, vice chair of the task force, was quoted as saying when their recommendations were announced.

But ACOG researchers, who had been working on the new guidelines when the task force published its announcement   in November 2009, ACOG didn't agree.

"Although we believe a woman should always talk to her doctor, there is strong evidence there's a need for early screening," said Dr. Jennifer Griffin, co-author of the ACOG guidelines. "We know that 40,000 women in the U.S., every year, contract breast cancer in their 40s. Of those, 20% will die," Griffin continued. "In our decision making process we felt it was our job to help women make the best decisions for their physical health. We think it is important women are given opportunities to choose what tests they need."

ACOG authors said the changes in the screening guidelines were based on three factors: the number of breast cancer cases reported in the U.S., the sojourn time, or how fast the tumor grows in young patients; and the potential to reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer by using breast screening.

The time period between when a breast cancer may be detected by a mammogram and before it grows big enough to cause problems is known as the sojourn time. Doctors say that although that time can vary in different people, the greatest predictor is age. Women ages 40 to 49 have the shortest average sojourn time (2-2.4 years), while women in their 70s have the longest average sojourn time (4-4.1) years.

According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate is 98% for women who find their breast cancer tumors early. ACOG researchers believe if women in their40s have access to annual mammograms there is a better chance of finding their tumors and treating them early, before they spread.

“Although women in their 40s have a lower overall incidence of breast cancer compared with older women, the window to detect tumors before they become symptomatic is shorter, on average,” said Griffin.

Also in Thursday's announcement, ACOG recommended women 40 and older receive annual clinical breast exams and for those women ages 20-39, the group recommended a breast exam every one to three years, depending on the woman's family breast cancer history. It also recommended women practice "breast self-awareness." This is not meant to replace the traditional breast self-exam, but to enhance it by asking women to become more aware of changes in their breasts on a daily basis.

“The goal here is for women to be alert to any changes, no matter how small, in their breasts, and report them to their doctor,” said Griffin. “Although we’ve moved away from routinely recommending breast self-exams, some women will want to continue doing them and that’s OK, because we know that screening tests can miss some breast cancers. Knowing your breasts helps catch breast cancer early."

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of all cancer-related deaths among American women. The number of breast cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S. has dropped 2% each year between 1999 and 2006, and deaths from breast cancer have also declined steadily over the past 20 years. ACOG believes if women continue with early screening the number of deaths from breast cancer could be decreased even further.

When asked if the Preventive Services Task force would reconsider its guidelines, now that ACOG has weighed in, Karen Migdail, a media representative for the group respresentatives said, “There are no plans to revise our recommendations.”

For more health information, follow @CNNHealth on Twitter.


soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. mjh

    no matter what protocol has been established to detect whether or not a individual person has breast cancer fact of the matter is it should be done it should be a matter oof medical ethics not goverment deciding

    July 20, 2011 at 17:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Peter

      My significant other is two thirds of the way through treatment for breast cancer. I have learned more than I care to know about this affliction and it's devastating effect on the woman,her family,her friends and the scope of it's epidemic like reality.

      It seems that "everyone" I have met since my heightened awareness knows some in their family or a friend,or a friend of a friend who has has this "killer". I can tell you that my partner is only 43 and the mamogram saved her life. We did it because I am a pain in the butt and kept reminding her to do it. Neither of us expected or had reason to expect cancer.

      The treatment is surgery,chemotherapy for 3 months then 6 weeks of daily radiation.

      The treatment varies of course depending on the obvious difference for each person and the "quality" of care they receive. The system is terrible but will be much worse if Obama Care is allowed to begin. I mention this not as a political statement but from someone who has experienced the horrors of government at work.

      I am here to tell you that 40 is appropriate as without the mamogram my best friend and companion of nine years would be dead!!!

      Peter

      July 21, 2011 at 01:10 | Report abuse |
    • Allison

      Peter – Kudos to you! It would be great if all boyfriends, husbands etc would get involved. Not only does this terrible disease affect the patient, it affects family and close friends as well. All women should be actively involved when it comes to their bodies. Please do not procrastinate! Technology is of no good use unless we take full advantage of it. :)

      July 21, 2011 at 09:23 | Report abuse |
    • Bob C.

      You don't sense the conflict of interest here with this recommendation? I suppose a completely independent study is out of the question, as anyone who would want to do the study would have an interest in its outcome.

      July 21, 2011 at 12:51 | Report abuse |
  2. mjh

    no matter what protocol has been established to detect whether or not a individual person has breast cancer fact of the matter is the test should be done; it should be a matter of medical ethics not goverment deciding!

    July 20, 2011 at 17:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. mjh

    i hope inptead of the american people sitting back observing on this site they make an effort to contribute ideas we surely need them

    July 20, 2011 at 17:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. TLW

    I am a 49 year old woman that has had yearly mammograms and I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer 12/2010. Yearly testing is essential in the early detection of breast cancer. Don't let policy overrule common sense. Fight for what is right.

    July 20, 2011 at 18:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kate

      @TLW, best of luck with your treatment!

      July 20, 2011 at 22:18 | Report abuse |
    • MAMMO'S INCREASE CANCER RISK! DUH!

      You played right into the doctor's hands. Do you really think after reading endless articles for decades exposing how our health care is handled in America that is NOT preventative but rather the big bucks are in AFTER CARE that they really don't want you to have cancer? Its 100% preventable!!! ONLY AMERICA has such ridiculous amounts of cancer cases more than anywhere else in the world. Its a multi BILLION dollar industry.

      Your 9 years of mammograms most likely gave you the breast cancer you have now. Go thank your doctor, or rather, he should be thanking you because now he can get that extra yacht he always wanted.

      July 21, 2011 at 14:01 | Report abuse |
  5. Jean

    Britain mammograms? every 3 years why? don't need them Lazy Doctors use them instead of figuring out women have heart disease. The number one killer of women NOT breast cancer. Engage your brains.

    July 20, 2011 at 18:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kathleen (breast cancer survivor -- in my 40s)

      For WOMEN UNDER 65, breast cancer is the No. 1 killer.

      July 20, 2011 at 21:25 | Report abuse |
    • Karen

      I was diagnosed at age 42 with STAGE 2 breast cancer (aggressive and already in my lymph nodes) shortly after my son was born. It was a microscopic tumor and was only "findable" because I had serendipitously elected to have a baseline mammogram. My son is now 15 and would be motherless (along with his two siblings) if I hadn't had that mammogram!!

      July 20, 2011 at 21:48 | Report abuse |
    • Cheryl

      I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 44. I skipped my mammogram at 43, found a lump and went in for my mammogram. The film was obvious and I knew looking at it that it was cancer. I ended up having a lumpectomy followed by a mastectomy because it was so extensive. I will be 52 this fall, my youngest children will be 14 in a couple of months. The way it was growing I would not have been here had I not had treatment. Breast cancer doesn't have to kill, but if it is not caught and treated early it will.

      July 20, 2011 at 23:54 | Report abuse |
  6. CMagee

    Mammograms CAUSE cancer.
    Themal imaging scans are better, and safer.

    July 20, 2011 at 19:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • GDP

      The risk of cancer due to mammograms is so small that the benefits of early detection far outway any miniscule risk of developing cancers. No study has proven a link between mammograms as a causation of breast cancer. Do not let your doctor convince you that thermograms are an accepted method for breast cancer screening. That method does not have the specificity or sensitivity that a mammogram has for detecting cancers, and is not a recognized method by the American College of Radiology, the American College of Gynecology, or the Society of Breast Imagers.

      July 20, 2011 at 20:52 | Report abuse |
    • JB11

      I agree. Mammograms typically pick up on tumors 15mm or greater. How many cells is this? Easily into the millions (though I've heard 4 billion). Point is: Is this early detection? Since the focus is on catching it early, without creating more cancer from the test itself, what else can be done? Get a thermogram (picks up on cancerous tendencies before tumors arise), self-breast exam (as others have mentioned, get to know yourself), and do the best preventive techniques available.

      July 20, 2011 at 21:14 | Report abuse |
    • GDP

      Mammograms can detect cancers that are only 2-3 mm in size, far less than the 1.5 cm you quote. Additionally, by mammography, you can detect other subtle changes in pre-cancerous lesions that should be either followed closely, or excised completely. The key to detecting these tiny lesions is regular screening mammograms that can demonstrate these subtle changes. Besides, using modern technology, computers aid in the detection of suspticious area by pinpointing areas that the radiologist should pay particular attention to. This, in addition to old studies, allows for early detection of very small lesions.

      July 20, 2011 at 21:20 | Report abuse |
    • Anna

      Exactly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      CANCER TREATMENT is a billion dollar industry. The profits from Cancer treatment have grown 300% in the past 10 years. This is deadly and terrible advice. This is the same crap with that HPV nonsense that caused many young people to die out of fear of POTENTIAL getting a very specialized cancer. WHAT A CROCK!

      July 21, 2011 at 14:03 | Report abuse |
  7. Ben

    it's not lazy doctors or the government deciding things. it's weighing the risk of radiation, the cost of the test, and the likelihood of false negative tests that are balanced with the benefit of diagnosing cancer in a timely way so it can be cured (not just found). i'm a doc. i should know. now stop flaming this article, lol.

    July 20, 2011 at 19:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Bob

    IBC (inflammatory breast cancer) is not detected by mammograms. If you are a woman and don't know about IBC, you need to do some on-line research.

    July 20, 2011 at 19:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • GDP

      Inflammatory Breast Carcinoma has features that can be seen by mammogram (i.e. skin thickening, increased density of the breast parenchyma), but the primary method of detection is by visual inspection of the breast for skin changes. To diagnose inflammatory breast carcinoma, a skin biopsy must be taken. The main symptoms of inflammatory breast carcinoma is thickening of the skin with some swelling and pain.

      July 20, 2011 at 21:05 | Report abuse |
  9. Betty

    I know women who haven't had a mammogram in years, because they can't afford them. Sure, if you're poor they are free, but there's so many middle class that can't go to the doctor anymore.

    July 20, 2011 at 20:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tonya

      I completely agree with you Betty. Also, there are many people out there that are "poor" but they still make just a little too much money in order to get assistance but their jobs don't offer health insurance to their employees because they are too small a business. What are those people supposed to do?

      July 20, 2011 at 20:48 | Report abuse |
    • Graiae66

      Great point, Betty! I know a lot of ladies in this group, too, and it scares me so much for them!

      July 21, 2011 at 11:37 | Report abuse |
  10. Tonya

    I believe that yearly mammograms should be available to every woman. However, most facilities do not offer mammograms free of charge to women without health insurance. I think this is not only stupid but inethical. I believe every man, woman, and child should have access to affordable healthcare whether they have insurance or not. Mammograms are not cheap by any means and most women who do not have health insurance do not get them for this reason alone. We need to make sure that preventative tests such as mammograms are available to people who otherwise cannot afford the tests on their own.

    July 20, 2011 at 20:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • GDP

      There are many programs in many different states that will offer assistance to women who fall into the middle group between medicaid and insurance. Please call your local breast imaging center to inquire if such a program exists in your state. Also, as a matter of ethics, most doctors would work with the patient who needs additional imaging/procedures to see that they are properly treated. I don't know of any of the surgeons that I work with who would turn away a patient solely because of a lack of money. They would rather treat the patient first, then worry about financial issues.

      July 20, 2011 at 20:55 | Report abuse |
  11. AME

    I wouldn't be here if I hadn't had yearly mammograms in my 40s. I have had two primary cases of triple negative breast cancer, five years apart - both diagnosed when I was in my 40s.

    July 20, 2011 at 20:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Donna

      Happy that you were diagnosed before it got too serious. :)

      July 20, 2011 at 22:08 | Report abuse |
  12. Karen

    Does not matter what the doctor or so-called experts say, you know your body and your family history....do what is best for you. During October – Breast Cancer Awareness month – many hospitals and other facilities offer mammograms at significantly reduced rates....check into it...you have to take care of yourself....no one else will. Certainly not your insurance company, if you have one, nor Medical, other social programs or our government....they don't care about us, it's all about the bottom line and people's lives don't fit into that figure.

    July 20, 2011 at 21:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Janice

      Thanks for that tip. I didn't know that. Much appreciated, since I have to pay out of pocket.

      July 21, 2011 at 02:34 | Report abuse |
  13. NW1000

    Obamacare will never pay for that. Dream on.

    July 20, 2011 at 21:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kathleen (breast cancer survivor -- in my 40s)

      Actually, Obama care most CERTAINLY pays for preventative services like mammograms.

      July 20, 2011 at 21:21 | Report abuse |
    • RillyKewl

      go back to sleep, you have no idea what you're talking about.

      July 21, 2011 at 02:31 | Report abuse |
  14. Don

    Feel your breasts. KNOW your breasts. YOU are the best breast cancer detector.

    July 20, 2011 at 21:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Kathleen (breast cancer survivor -- in my 40s)

    Medical guidelines on under-40 mammo's: Do – No Don't - yes, do! - no, don't! - yes, do!

    Round and round we go with the number crunchers and public health policy clowns.

    My advice re mammos: if you're concerned, GET ONE. If your doctor won't write it up in a way that your insurer will support it, find another doctor. And, YES, do BSE's from time to time, also. And *definitely* learn about what breast cancer looks, and feels, like, because not all of it shows up on mammograms.

    Dont' have insurance? Did you vote Democrat? If not, quit whining. If you *did*, then check out the following resources to find a free or low cost mammogram in your area. Sadly, this will take more effort than it should, but don't take no for an answer. "Living well (and long) is the best revenge" against those who will only offer health care for profit:

    http://www.healthcentral.com/breast-cancer/c/78/15110/faqs-women/

    July 20, 2011 at 21:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jules

      You go, girl. :)

      July 20, 2011 at 21:17 | Report abuse |
    • deb

      .....good post.... :)

      July 20, 2011 at 21:34 | Report abuse |
    • elle

      Thanks for the wonderful post.

      July 20, 2011 at 23:31 | Report abuse |
  16. sa

    I am 46 and was diagnosed with very early (stage 0) breast cancer when I had just turned 44. I hadn't been in for a mammagram in four years, but I forced myself to go that year since my aunt had just died of breast cancer. I thank God I went in when I did!

    July 20, 2011 at 21:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Afell

    What is truly sad is that in this nation of so many wonders, eventually, the only people who will be able to afford health care are the very poor and the very rich. The middle class is bleeding on the table of health care. Health insurance premiums are at an all time high, while the average consumer is still left holding larger and larger portions of the health care expense through increased deductibles and co-payments.

    So where is a woman who is a member of the working poor, who makes too much to receive state benefits, but whose paycheck is too meager to afford health insurance, whether or not her employer is able to offer it or not, going to be able to afford this once-yearly mammogram? Especially now that state and federal governments, with ever-tightening budgets, are going out of their way to trim government benefit enrollments any way they can?

    Now is the time to push for real health care reform, and not just the pig-with-lipstick variety that we laughingly call Obamacare. We need a method to pool all Americans into the same risk group in order to provide services to keep our fellow citizens from getting sick in the first place. We need to eliminate the fraud, waste and abuse that happens every day in both the health insurance and health care industries. We need to eliminate those fat checks that health insurance companies pay to both their executives and their lobbyists on Capitol Hill. If you don't know what I am talking about, google how much United Healthcare's CEO made last year (if you don't have time, that's $102 million, or roughly $53,125 an hour for a standard 40 hour workweek ).

    July 20, 2011 at 21:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Janice

      I agree!!! I think it is disgusting that CEO's of Healthcare companies pocket SO much. How much greed is too much? I have NO faith that American's will ever be supportive of REAL healthcare change here. It is a fundamental problem. The decision that healthcare is a either a right or a luxury has to be answered. If you feel it is a right, then there are options, but I still don't think they can get past the greed of the healthcare players and lobbyists. I think there should be some payment for everyone, but it should not be 300-400.00 a month for a single person or up to $1000 a month for a family. The costs are inflated because of abuse IMO.

      July 21, 2011 at 02:50 | Report abuse |
  18. Darlene Buckingham

    You find what you are looking for. I have never had and will never have a mammagram. Radiation, flattened breast. No thank you. If necessary I will choose a thermal image. Peace to ALL.

    July 20, 2011 at 21:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. pazyfe

    I am a 48 /o that was diagnosed 9/2010, it was a challenging experience, if God's grace had not been with me I don't know how I could have gotten through it, the chemo, radiation and ALL those dark places that I took myself to when I was mentally trying to get a grasp of what I was confronting. I saw God's strength, the Holy Spirit filled me with strength, courage and at times I was so out of it all I could do was pray Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. He was already there with me, holding me, guiding me, drawing me closer. Here it is 11 months later and His grace carried me through, I refuse to think in terms of stages, I am at a God-filled stage where He is my rock. I still work full time doing what I love advocating for the patient, the community and loving each and very day God blesses me with.

    July 20, 2011 at 22:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Poodles

      Maybe jeebus will give you some waffles too. And if you're a really good sheep, maybe even some syrup.

      July 20, 2011 at 23:46 | Report abuse |
  20. marci

    Mammagrams do detect breast cancer. But here is the secret, if you have dense breast tissue finding a tumor is like finding a snowball in a snowstorm. I had a "clear" mamo and 2 months later found my own lump. Masectomy, 9 or 13 lymph nodes positive, chemo, radiation, and 1 year preventive iv all in all 18 months so I could survive. I have had yearly mamos since I was 42, diagnosis with breast cancer at 50. I could not understand how this happen, how did a mamo miss a 1 inch tumor! I was finally told by my surgeon "you have very dense breast tissue". Dense breast tissue is not information that most women arevever are told, just the post card in the mail "all clear". KNOW YOUR BREAST DENSISITY ASK YOU DOCTOR he has the report from the radiologiist and it will include your breast density. Request additional screening after a rountine mamo if you have dense breast tissue. For more information regarding dense breast tissue and the movement to make doctors tell women this vital info go "areyoudense.com".

    July 20, 2011 at 22:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • OnlyTruth

      Marci,
      Sorry for your diagnosis. It seems like a lot of people are dense on this site. Unfortunately women in their 40's do have dense breast tissue, so mammograms are less effective. In fact it is real difficult to conclude that they do any good in this age group. People jump on the idea "got to catch it early" but its not that simple. The major risk of mammograms are that they show non-malignant disease which looks "maybe" malignant and prompts repeat films and biopsies and worry. This happens a lot in the 40's age group. Also even with mammograms the tumor reaches palpable size between mammograms so those women would feel the tumor anyway and the mammogram is superfluous. Try to find a study comparing a large group of women who begin mammograms at 40 vs an equivalent group who begin them at 50. Such a study does not exist.

      July 21, 2011 at 15:07 | Report abuse |
  21. LaLa

    What it doesn't tell you about Insurance is, that IF you get a Mamogram and they "find" something "suspisious", your INS company will not cover another exam for a year: If you have any additional tests done, it's out of your pocket...Been there/done that. I didn't even go get one this year because they always "find" SOMETHING that costs me tons of money.

    July 20, 2011 at 22:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Anne

      You know what really costs tons of money – out of your pocket, your families pocket, your house, – is being treated for cancer, especially if you also then die of cancer. The end of life costs are crazy, the funeral, and of course, my family trying to live without my salary. Now THAT really makes me want to just skip the whole thing! But too late...my local cancer center could name a wing after me after 8 years of living and dying with breast cancer diagnosed at age 45, now stage 4. Money is not the reason to Not have a mammogram.

      July 21, 2011 at 00:17 | Report abuse |
  22. budgie girl

    ACOG has a vested interest in women getting mammograms. It means more doctor visits for all the OB-GYN's who practice women's health. The USPTF guidelines are the most unbiased, evidence based recommendations. Canada has been screening women over 50 for years and guess what, women are not dying more frequently in Canada from breast cancer. The US has got to accept the fact that we cannot test for everything at any cost and without consequence. If we could, then we'd be screening for breast cancer starting at age 30, as there are women every year diagnosed with breast cancer in their 30s. The fact is, that there are tradeoffs. This may sound harsh, but it is good medicine. Until we are all ready to pay astronomical amounts for excessive screening, excessive biopsies, excessive treatment – then we need to be practical.

    July 20, 2011 at 22:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Graiae66

      You may think this now, but if you, your mom, a sister, a best friend, whoever gets breast cancer in their 40s, you may feel differently. I sincerely hope that doesn't happen to you.

      July 21, 2011 at 11:41 | Report abuse |
  23. Kelce

    Radiating yourself to check for cancers and then a few years down the road you get cancer from radiating yourself and are sooo happy that you radiated yourself to figure it out.

    July 20, 2011 at 22:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Kolman

    Those things CAUSE cancer. Do not get tricked intro big pharma's search for money. Cancer is a business. Plain and simple.

    July 20, 2011 at 22:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. kristak5

    I found a lump last year and went to my doctor, who told me that because of my dense breast tissue it was normal. I went back this year for another lump and was again told by my doctor that it was nothing to be concerned about....All because of my age. I am 28 years old and because of that my doc thought there is no way I could have breast cancer. I insisted I get a mammogram done especially because of my strong family history. I have talked to 3 different primary care physicians, and 2 different OB/GYN's about getting early mammograms because my grandmother, aunt, great aunt, and great grandmother had breast cancer and was told by every sing one that as long as I have no first degree relative diagnosed with breast cancer there is NO reason to begin early screening. I explained to them that in all cases they were premenopausal diagnoses, and that my mother had a lumpectomy with precancerous cells and was placed on hormonal therapy to PREVENT breast cancer, and ALWAYS the answer was the same, there is no need to begin early detection with me. Go figure, I was diagnosed at 28 years old with Breast Cancer and am currently undergoing chemotherapy, and plan to have a double mastectomy in October. I understand this whole article is about the 40 and up group, but I completely agree that these decisions are best made based on the person and their history and the conversation they have with their physician, and should NEVER be based on simply a number...I feel as though I fell through the cracks and that if people feel like they should have a mammogram it should be their decision not their doctors.

    July 20, 2011 at 22:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • marci

      Krista, I so understand your frustration. I have no family history of bc. I was shocked when I found my lump (1 inch) 2 moths after my mamo. Doctors need to pay attention to us who just "think" something is wrong. And breast densisity is a hugh part of late stage diagnosis. I to was pre menopausal (50) at the time. Women with dense breast need to know and should not be told we will keep and eye on it no matter what your age. Please go to the website "areyoudense.com" tell your story (tere are a lot of us) and they are working on legislation, state by state to inform women of the breast densisity and additional screening that should be done to rule out breast cancer in us with dense breast. take care you will be in my thoughts.

      July 20, 2011 at 23:13 | Report abuse |
    • 2 time survivor

      Thanks for sharing kristak5. I was 32 the first time I was diagnosed with breast cancer; 34 when it returned, even after a year of chemo and radiation. I'm currently bald, anemic and nauseated from more chemo. I'm amazed at the number of people who are afraid of mammograms, they have saved my life twice. By the way I had NO family history of cancer. My advise to people afraid of getting a mammogram is to at least know your breasts; be aware of any changes and tell your doctor and demand getting tested. Don't be fooled into thinking you are safe just because you are young.

      July 21, 2011 at 01:13 | Report abuse |
    • RillyKewl

      Good for you for not giving up! We all need to know our own bodies. Hard to believe you had such a string of bad information handed to you by ignorant, unprofessional doctors + staff. Ridiculous.

      July 21, 2011 at 02:45 | Report abuse |
  26. ab

    Doctor's group recommending more services for which doctors get paid with little to no data to support the recommendation.Surprise! If you can't check yourself then expose yourself to cancer causing radiation as it is the lessor of the 2 evils. Though, something they forget to mention; some women will develop breast cancer from the radiation exposure due to screening. Plus, the data remain unsupportive of *routine* screening between 40 and 50. Be educated, make your own decisions as possible.

    July 20, 2011 at 22:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. ken

    And thus you see WHY medical costs in the country are sky rocketing. Since the tests are covered by most insurance, of course Doctors recommend a yearly test. Hey why not, the big insurance company will pay for it. 40 Million women age 40-49, each getting a test every year at a cost of $150 per test .. $6 Billion dollars. False positives are 7%. So that's 2.8 Million more invasive (and more costly) tests. That adds around another $1 Billion. Oh and lets not forget that of the 40,000 per year, 20% will die or 8,000. Having the tests every year instead of every two years will reduce that rate of death to around 15% (estimated). So for $7 Billion dollars more per year and negatively effecting the health of 2.8 Million women a year with false positives (not to mention the extra dose of radiation every year, oh yummy), we can save 2000 more lives.

    Of course for that same $3.5 Million spent per life saved, we could spend it on taking care of the 1% of childern in the US suffering from chronic malnutrition. Eliminating that condition would eliminate all the health woes these childern suffer as the grow up, saving HUGE amounts of money in medical care. But sure, why do the smart thing and concentrate on where the big health problems. Lets pour money and time into more mammograms because they are easy to do and turn a nice profit.

    July 21, 2011 at 00:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. RachelM

    OK, that picture is totally wrong. I was a radiological technician for 20 years and NO WOMAN ever smiles like that when about to be compressed!!!

    July 21, 2011 at 00:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • RillyKewl

      Ouch! It does hurt. But its pretty quick + its so worth it.

      July 21, 2011 at 02:39 | Report abuse |
  29. Brian

    Why can't doctors make up their minds on this? Do they have minds? Their billing department is oh so efficient but they are scatter brained with everything else.

    July 21, 2011 at 00:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. tedl

    some of the cancers above could have been CAUSED by yearly testing. Every woman should know about thermal imageing and other less harmful tests for cancer. Women are being frightened into unnecessary exposure to cancer by excessive x-rays. Mammograms are a huge INDUSTRY and as such survival and expansion are foremost goals. Beware.

    July 21, 2011 at 00:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cancer scam

      Agreed. I have read so much about this 'epidemic' and believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is all concocted to rake in the dough for doctors. I know that there have been cures for cancer discovered in other countries yet it is squashed and the people have been assassinated here trying to bring the cure to America. Very scary.

      July 21, 2011 at 14:14 | Report abuse |
  31. Janice

    I am 45. I have never had a mammogram. I don't have insurance anymore, because I am freelancing in order to be more available for my aging parents. My insurance policy that I purchased on my own became impossible to afford (They kept raising it every 6 months). I figure, if I get cancer, I hope to die quickly. Or, I may get an apartment in my Canadian homeland, near my parents, in order to re-establish residency. The cost of that is not that far off from what a private insurance policy is now for me in the US.

    July 21, 2011 at 02:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. RillyKewl

    don't worry about the policy, just go!
    Know your own body, check yourself the same time every month. If something changes, get an appt + go asap. Keep your old films for a baseline comparison next time. Early detection is the only way to save your life.
    Also, the younger you are, the more aggressive the cancer tends to be. Waiting is a huge mistake.

    July 21, 2011 at 02:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Jeff

    My wife had her first mammo at 40, which was clear, had her second at 41 this winter, found lumps in each breast. Turned out to be leukemia AML. She has since received a bone marrow transplant as the best chance to cure this cancer. Cancers can grow so fast. Without early detection, her chances of survival would have been drastically reduced. I am so thankful to have a fighting chance, especially our 2 daughters, ages 10 and 13.

    July 21, 2011 at 09:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Lily

    Mamograms are outdated ! ULTRASOUND only way to go; especially if one has cystic breasts.
    Doctors know this but insurance companies are lagging behind. What else is new ?
    This is the fight we should be fighting - ultrasound for all – forget the mamograms.

    July 21, 2011 at 10:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • niki

      Absolutely right. Ultrasounds are the way to go especiall for women under 50 wtih dense breasts. When I found a lump in my breasts in my 30s I went for a mammogram and ultrasound but it was the ultrasound that made the definitive diagnosis that it was a harmless lump. And that was about 15 years ago. I would never bother with mammograms, only ultrasounds for me. And there's no fear of radiation either.

      July 21, 2011 at 18:32 | Report abuse |
    • Raddoc

      Just to put the radiation thing to rest permanently, exposure from a mammogram is approximately 0.2-0.4 mSv depending on how many images you need, whereas the average natural background radiation exposure from just living on this planet is approximately 3.1-5 mSv per year depending on where you live and how much flying you do. That's right. You get more radiation from an average airplane flight than a mammogram. Nobody is suggesting we stop flying, are they? Where is the outrage from all the cancers flying is "causing"? Now doesn't everybody feel stupid? Facts please, not emotional BS.

      July 22, 2011 at 13:05 | Report abuse |
  35. Raddoc

    Some of you have NO IDEA what you are talking about. I am a breast imager and can assure you that ultrasound is not the answer, as it cannot find the EARLIEST form of breast cancer, thermal imaging is snake oil and a laughing stock of breast imaging, and the extremely small risk of the minute radiation of mammography is a non issue when compared to all the deaths prevented. Mammography is the gold standard of early detection, with US and MRI as adjunct modalities, not first line testing. I have been doing this for 11 years (plus training) and know without a doubt that MAMMOGRAPHY SAVES LIVES.

    July 21, 2011 at 10:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dr. Johnson

      No RADDOC, you are completely wrong. It has killed thousands of women unnecessarily by exposing them to even more radiation. Numerous studies have been conducted showing this to be true.
      I shouldn't have to tell you since you and I both work in the field of medicine but our health care system in America is extremely corrupt. I came out of medical school bright eyed and hopeful. But now I see the ugly truth. Its all about money. Its all about hiding the truth and squeezing every drop of money out of patients first, and care second. Please open your eyes.

      July 21, 2011 at 14:10 | Report abuse |
    • Raddoc

      Maybe your field of medicine is all about money, but mine is all about saving lives. Numerous studies? Go ahead and name , oh let's pick three. From reputable journals, not throwaways. If you truly believed what you are saying, you should have the integrity to choose another profession. And not blast misinformation. Are you a breast imaging expert or oncologist or similar? Just like the other ignorant posts here, you should inform yourself before posting information that will harm patients. First, do no harm.

      July 21, 2011 at 14:50 | Report abuse |
    • niki

      http://www.cochrane.dk/screening/mammography-leaflet.pdf

      Here's a reputable site telling women of the pros and cons of screening.

      July 21, 2011 at 21:30 | Report abuse |
    • Raddoc

      Sorry, Niki but the "site" you mention is not applicable to American women and manipulates the figures for its own purposes. The Danish healthcare system is a state-run universal system, therefore the government has an interest in keeping screening costs down because it's cheaper than the deaths that result. Occurrance rates and mortality rates are different in American women vs European women due to lifestyle difference as well as treatment differences. Still no reasonable proof that mammography is not indicated.

      July 22, 2011 at 09:10 | Report abuse |
  36. PostChemoGirl2011

    I was diagnosed 4 days before this past Christmas. I was 43. My doctors said I should be the poster child for annual mammograms. I have NO family history of breast cancer, have never been overweight and have been in very good health my entire life....until 12/21/10. The lump was very deep and would have never been detected by self-examination OR doc examination. I had a mammo 15 months prior and there was NO lump and 15 months later, there it was. If I hadn't had the mammo who knows where this disease might have spread and who knows how long I'd have left on this earth. BUT as it was, I had surgery to remove the lump and my lymph nodes which it had spread to, went thru and agressive chemo regimen and radiation. At 44 now, I can honestly say that the mammogram saved my life! Hopefully I'll have another 44+ years now! Please ladies....ALL of you, no matter what your history or family history is....if your 40...go have one....every year! Don't skip a year....these things grow fast! Mine sure did....from nothing to ping pong ball size in 15 months!!! You have to take responsibility of your body and your health!

    July 21, 2011 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob C.

      You probably would have been fine. You were only nine months away from your next mammogram, and you would have either caught it then or felt something by then. Or it could have gone away on its own. When you say "no one knows" that's exactly correct. Oncologists don't know, and they don't make money by not doing anything, and they could get sued if you did have it and they chose to wait to see what happens. So oncologists always assume the absolute worst possible case, and they are the ones recommending aggressive treatments and annual exams even for slow-growing tumors and low risk patients.

      July 21, 2011 at 13:02 | Report abuse |
    • Raddoc

      Bob, if she developed a metastatic breast cancer in 15 months, that is probably a high nuclear grade tumor which likely would have spread elsewhere in another 9 months, as you suggest. She would not "probably have been fine." And what fantasy land do you live in where a metastatic breast cancer "goes away on its own"?????? Oncologists don't know???? Don't you think they are paying attention to all their patients who die and live over their careers? PostChemoGirl2011, you did everything right to try to live as long as possible for yourself and your family. Others who are ignorant should stick to topics they actually know something about.

      July 21, 2011 at 14:41 | Report abuse |
  37. ljcjec

    I don't think there needs to be a blanket approach for all women. Some women should have a mammogram at 35...others are probably fine waiting until 50. I plan to wait until 50 for my first mammogram. I had my first child at 25 and have spent over three years of my life breast feeding (three kids). I have no family history of cancer. I am of healthy weight and have no other risk factors. I am pretty comfortable waiting until 50, but others who may have more risk factors may not want to. There is no reason to have a one-size fits all approach to medicine in this country and we would probably save money if things were individualized a little bit more.

    July 21, 2011 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Raddoc

      With all due respect, that's like saying "Well I don't drive a red sports car and I don't drive on the highway, and no one in my family has been involved in a fatal car accident, so I'm going to ignore all the experts and not wear a seatbelt when I'm in a car." There are hundreds of thousands of thin women with multiple breast-fed children and no family history of breast cancer who have been diagnosed with breast cancer themselves. BTW, 2/3 of new breast cancer diagnosis patients have NO family history.

      July 21, 2011 at 12:26 | Report abuse |
  38. Graiae66

    FINALLY ACOG does something right! Speaking as a breast cancer survivor (found very early at age 38), the risk of a 'false positive' is far outweighed by the benefit of saving each and every woman in her 40s who can survive breast cancer caught early.

    July 21, 2011 at 11:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Vera

    The Breast Health and Healing Foundation believes that finding the causes of breast cancer will lead us to prevent this disease. We are trying to fund trials on Dr. Vincent Tuohy's breast cancer vaccine [Cleveland Clinic] which was completely effective at preventing breast cancer in mice that normally get this disease. It also slowed the growth of tumors in the control group of mice. BHHF is also trying to fund Dr. Beatriz Pogo's work on the human mammary tumor virus, which is present in approximately forty percent of all breast cancers! Please donate to BHHF! 40% of your money will go to FUND TUOHY'S VACCINE, 40% will go to FUND the POGO VIRUS, 10% will be spent on EDUCATING THE PUBLIC on BREAST CANCER PREVENTION & 10% will be used to offset administrative costs at BHHF. Send checks to: 36 Newark Avenue, Suite 130, Belleville, New Jersey 07109. Donations can be made via PayPal at http://www.breasthealthandhealing.org. BHHF is a tax-exempt non-profit.

    July 21, 2011 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. MS

    I have just finished radiation after surgery and 6 weeks of chemo. I was 48 years old when a routine mammogram last December detected a her2 positive early stage breast cancer. Women under 50 are more likely than older women to get a more aggressive cancer, and so early detection and mammo's are crucial. Thank god for ACOG because there is plenty of data to support their recommendation.

    July 21, 2011 at 15:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. boocat

    My doctor sent me for my first mammo when I turned 40. I'd listen to him before I'd listen to some committee or clique of doctors I don't know.

    July 21, 2011 at 16:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. BreastCancerAction

    Get the real story on screening at Breast Cancer Action's "An In-Depth Look at Breast Cancer Screening" webinar next week. The webinar will delineate the risks and benefits of breast cancer screening, review the science behind the USPSTF’s recommendations, and provide attendees with tools for understanding media coverage of mammography. Join us for an illuminating look at a complex and often confusing issue.

    Register here: http://bcaction.org/2011/07/14/webinar-an-in-depth-look-at-breast-cancer-screening/

    July 22, 2011 at 14:49 | Report abuse | Reply
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