Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Latest mammography recommendation puts me in a quandary

Recent studies on mammograms have been questioning their efficacy and necessity, so it's not much of a surprise to see the latest recommendation by a governmental task force that most women should only get screened every two years starting at age 50.

Already, there is much controversy about this report, along with suspicion that it's just a secret plot to hold down health-care costs at the expense of middle-aged and senior women. But there is also much evidence that says irradiating women regularly, and prescribing treatment for even the slightest signs of irregularity, are much more harmful to women overall.

I fall more into the second camp -- the one that favors fewer mammos, rather than more frequent ones. However, I dutifully followed the recommendations, and have been getting yearly or biannual screenings from the age of 40, even though there's no breast-cancer history in my family.

And then recently, there were signs of calcification in my right breast that warranted more detailed follow-up, which caused three rounds of X-rays in the past year (last November, this January and July) -- which I've blogged about here and here and here. I'm supposed to be going back again this month (November.)

And that puts me in a serious quandary. My doctors are just doing their job by being cautious. But I really hate the whole process, and the fact that I, like so many other women, am being needlessly put though this process of alarm-and-worry-and-wait-and-see.

Frankly, it sucks.

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