Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"What you gon' do with all that breast, all that breast inside that shirt?"

So what are you going to do with those lumps? ;-)

I only ask because of the recent news stories concerning the new recommendations on breast cancer screenings- recommendations that reduce the number of preventative screenings suggested for women in the younger bracket of diagnosis, from age 40-60.

The US Preventative Services Task Force (who according to CNN.com does not have any oncologists on it's panel) is suggesting that mammography causes "risks" such as anxiety over the need for further testing, discomfort of performing the test itself (ie, breast compression), and the idea that the results if a mammogram are inexact, and further testing could conclude that there is no breast cancer. There is also the suggestion that there are not "enough" lives saved by mammography in women ages 40-60.

The Task Force is also coming down on breast self-exams, stating that these exams, recommended monthly by cancer experts, do no good.

You may ask "Why does Brie give a crap about all of this? Why isn't she just whining about her last trimester, as usual?"

My family has a significant history with breast cancer. My maternal grandmother, Minerva, died of breast cancer in her 40's,leaving my own mother motherless at the age of 8, only to watch all of her aunts succumb to the disease as she grew into an adult, the last being my Aunt Evelyn when I was a sophomore in high school. The daughters of all of those beautiful women have fought breast cancer (with the exception of- by the grace of God- my own mother). My amazing Mom-Mom, my father's mother, fought and beat breast cancer in her 70's.

And despite the fact that my mother has been and remains free of breast cancer, despite the odds against her, she doesn't just sit back and rely on her luck. She has been amazingly proactive in the fight against breast cancer, taking part in a number of groundbreaking studies and medical trials.

I have seen first-hand that being proactive can be a lifesaver in the case of breast cancer. Will detecting cancer very early be a 100% guarantee that a patient will be cured, or not have a very aggressive form of cancer? Of course not. Nothing is 100% when it comes to medicine, and anyone who thinks so is fooling themselves. But, that said, I have spent half a lifetime surrounded by amazing women who have been willing to fight cancer toe-to-toe by being proactive, educated, and aggressive in their vigilance over the disease.

(Also of note, this article discussing the incidence of breast cancer is teens and tweens. Young women are developing breasts at an earlier age compared to decades before, and as long as the tissue is there, there is a risk of cancer, although much less so then in a fully grown adult, of course.)

Obviously, this new research is not going to be the be-all and end-all of breast cancer prevention and treatment. It will require women to be more communicative with their physicians in determining the need for mammograms and other preventive measures such as genetic testing. Making sure the lines of communication between a women and her physician can only be a good thing. You are only one person, and it is just as much up to you as it is up to your doctor to determine the best course of medical care for you.

Read some of these articles. What is your opinion?

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