Do you check your breasts regularly? Are you proactive with your health? Do you have a medical baseline? We are our own advocates and need to advocate on our breasts behalf.
Twelve minutes later the technician returned. The calcifications were not obviously malignant nor were they obviously benign, they were somewhere in the middle, not close enough to bad to require a biopsy at this time. I was to come back in six months for more tests to see if there was any change. I was told this was good news for today.
Like forecasting, breast cancer screening and diagnosis aren't perfect -- especially in younger women. But that alone shouldn't lead us to stop using them. I, for one, would hate to get caught unaware in that storm.
There is a pernicious aspect of this "expertise fallacy": once you understand that patient-level experience cannot provide useful information to assess screening, it becomes clear that clinical experience tends to provide misleading information. Among the many reasons for this:
After decades of educating the public about the importance of early detection, the new guidelines are indeed confusing and controversial. In the new guidelines, the recommended age for annual screening mammography was increased from age 40 to age 45 for women "of average risk for breast cancer."
We need to refocus our resources and attention on the two things that really matter: (1) stopping men and women from getting breast cancer in the first place -- primary prevention; and (2) preventing metastasis if they do.
A new JAMA study reveals that breast cancer has been widely overdiagnosed due to an increase in mammography. And it hasn't lowered death rates. We discuss the dangers of overtreatment and whether we need to change our approach to cancer screening.