Disclaimer: I have no healthcare credentials, and this post is strictly an opinion piece in response to a news report. A link to the report appears at the end of this post.
When I read in The NY Times that The American Cancer Society had issued new, less rigid guidelines for mammograms in preventive care, my first reaction was relief. Earlier this year, a routine screening mammogram produced ambiguous results, and I had to go back for more x-rays. I got a clean bill of health on the same day as the follow-up procedure, but it was stressful and I was exposed to more radiation.
I figure cutting mammograms in half would do more than compensate for this year’s additional radiation. It would also be more convenient.
I haven’t discussed this with my doctor yet. I have fewer known risk factors than some other women, but if my doctor says we should continue with yearly mammograms I won’t argue.
Groups which offer guidelines aren’t in agreement. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and The National Comprehensive Cancer Network make other recommendations.
Cancer prevention and treatment have been studied for decades, and some types of cancer get more attention than others. We probably won’t see this simplified by much in our lifetime, but an honest approach to each person’s risk factors can help us make the right choices with lifestyle habits and healthcare. We must also be realistic and consider that we don’t know every one of our risk factors. People raised by adoptive parents might know nothing about their biological relatives’ health, although I understand genetic testing is being developed.
The recommendations change over time, and there’s never absolute agreement. We can only hope the Obama Administration’s healthcare reform — which was weakened by political compromise before it could pass in Congress — allows us to seek care from professionals we trust, who will treat us as individuals and respect that each patient has different needs.
The rest may be left to chance.