The Mammogram Debate – What should you choose?


It is surprising that with such concerns over Breast Cancer that we would even consider debating an evaluation and diagnostic procedure that could save lives. But. . . that’s exactly what is happening in the medical community. The mammogram debate is just starting to heat up.

Your knowledge about mammograms is essential in making a valid decision!

Of course with anything, there are risks but, do the risks outweigh the findings?

Most people know that Mammograms are essential – but the recent debate has been about the age of “routine” mammogram screening.!!!

The following blog is a look at both sides of the argument and is not designed to choose for you.

Hopefully at the end, that will be the easy part. If not, and you have more questions, feel free to email our staff or post a comment.

Therefore, Age and relevance continues to dominate the mammogram debate.  Mammograms are a key way to diagnosis Breast Cancer. The essential “Facts About Breast Cancer” always include mammograms. Mammograms have been an important theme and has been promoted during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

But for many women both young and old – the question regarding the importance of Mammograms continues to be dusted off.

Mammograms are a specialized X-rays that looks at Breast Tissue.  Can be done as a routine screening or following a breast exam finding a concerning nodule.

The American Cancer Society has long reported a need for routine mammograms to start at age 40.  Then mammograms continue every 1 or 2 years following.

Recently, a federally-appointed advisory panel decided to set it own standard.  Their recommendations point to the need of mammograms only being done under the age of 50.  This is a huge difference when compared to the previous recommendation age of 40. This just adds to the mammogram debate.

The panel also reported a lack of importance of Self Breast Exams.

The reaction to the guidelines has been primarily with met with anger.  Although several medical providers and patients understand the change in guidelines – the mainstream of both remain quite upset.

Concern regarding federal coverage of these procedures when done earlier than age 50 has been brought into question.  It is also unknown if any private insurances will change its policy to match the guidelines set forth.

Both sides of the argument appear to have supporters.


Effectiveness of Mammograms

It is thought that for women under age of 40 it takes 1900 mammograms to save 1 life

The improvement increases after age 50 to 1300 mammograms to save 1 life.

Others argue that the risk of false positive or non-breast cancers that are diagnosed as breast cancers are a huge concern.

Others reports that mammograms are one step in breast cancer identification.  Breast biopsies help confirm or enhance the diagnosis.

Some women report that mammograms have saved their lives and more importantly their confidence.

Breast cancer is the number one concern of women and mammograms can help alleviate finding a breast mass on exam.

Robert Smith, director of cancer screening for the American Cancer Society, says his organization also is sticking with the current guidelines “because we not only looked at the evidence that the task force looked at, but we also looked at newer, modern data.”



Recent Update

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in a given statement, reported that the new guidelines had “caused a great deal of confusion and worry among women and their families across this country,” and she stressed that they were issued by “an outside independent panel of doctors and scientists who . . . do not set federal policy and . . . don’t determine what services are covered by the federal government.”

This statement appears to challenge the previous statement by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

Aside from the American Cancer Society, others such as the American College of Radiology and some members of congress have questioned the new guidelines involved in the mammogram debate.

Sebelius added: “My message to women is simple. Mammograms have always been an important life-saving tool in the fight against breast cancer and they still are today. Keep doing what you have been doing for years — talk to your doctor about your individual history, ask questions, and make the decision that is right for you.”

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4 Responses to The Mammogram Debate – What should you choose?

  1. Just me, Breast Cancer free says:

    Over 187,000.00 women are informed they have breast cancer a year, and 3% of that total are men. Oh I don’t know – you tell me if getting a mammogram at an early age is silly. These new reports stating we should wait until we are 50 is RIDICULOUS! Women that carry the hereditary cancer gene (BRCA) should get a mammogram in their early 20’s and become proactive. Dr. Susan Love came out in favor of getting mammo’s at 50’s, one of her comments oversold the benefits of mammography. Are you kidding me? You could never over sell someone on the safety of their life! Early detection could save many lives. If detected early, women diagnosed with breast cancer have a survival rate of 96 percent. I would like to know when Dr. Susan Love was diagnosed with breast cancer? The false-positive results, unnecessary imaging and biopsies (that she states in the article) – are few and far between, that isn’t even an argument! Breast Cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in women in the U.S. It’s also the most common cause of death in women between the ages of 45 and 55. I found it ODD on Dr. Susan Loves web site, there is no comment section, she does however post a few emails that she received. If you want some great information on Breast Cancer go to the link below, the web site is all about helping and being proactive and nothing more.

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  2. THEOC says:

    That is such BS. The real reason for those recommendations is COST. Plain and simple. If Obamacare passes (oh please, Lord, help us), the government is going to have to ration care in order to pay for it. The government will NOT be able to afford to cover annual mammograms. So isn’t it convenient that these recommendations come out now to have a mammo every other year. In other words, this is a precursor to health care rationing. Let’s get people used to it now. I’m not surprised any doctor would be for this.

    So let’s say Obamacare is now in effect. Sally has her first mammogram at age 50. She has her next mammogram at age 52. Uh oh! Something shows up on her mammogram. She calls her doctor to make an appointment. She can’t get in for 8 weeks because the doctor is booked. Unbeknownst to her and her doctor, she has an extremely aggressive form of cancer. By the time she sees her doctor 8 weeks later, the tumor has grown and she is now at stage 2. The doctor has to call the federal government to get approval to do the biopsy, which takes an additional 21 days. Sally gets the ok from the feds, calls and makes her appointment. Once again, the doctor is booked and she must wait another 3 weeks. She is now at stage 3. She gets her biopsy results and works with her doctor to schedule surgery as soon as possible. Once again, the doctor must contact the feds to get approval. Due to government backlog, it takes nearly 6 weeks. She is now stage 4. The waiting list for cancer surgery is 6 months. But that doesn’t really matter – the cutoff for government treatment is stage 3 (they figure you’re going to die anyway at stage 4 so why spend the money) and the age cutoff for cancer surgery is 51.

    The bottom line? It sucks to be Sally.

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  3. Sadie says:

    Great article. This information is so important for women everywhere.

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    • admin says:

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting on our article. Increasing awareness through information is essential. Thx

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