12-11-09 gray matter of brain
Lately, it seems like there is an epidemic of non-invasive breast cancer. It seems of all the breast cancer data I collect in a day, at least half the cases are breast in-situ disease. I noted this increase just in the last 3 to 5 years or so.
Is there something causing this increase in women today? Hormone replacement?, The Pill use? Our diets? Our sedentary life style? Or could it be simply from better technology and improved mammogram equipment?
No one has the exact answers on these questions. Could the increase use of mammograms themselves be a risk with the increase exposure to radiation?
Breast cancer and mammogram recommendations; OLD versus the NEW recommendations are very complicated and fraught with emotion. On one hand it seems logical if you find something “early” like pre-cancerous breast disease and treat it, all will be well. But what if that pre-cancerous breast disease is no urgent threat and may never evolve into invasive cancer….. have we burdened ourselves over nothing, have we allowed fear to make ourselves over react and over treat?
Well, I’m blabbering on, with really no wise counsel for you all.
However, I will say, in the past I have purposely stretched the time between my mammograms out from 12 months, to 18moths and often two years. So this year, I am NOT getting a mammogram in 2009, I will probably wait until late summer of next year.
For women in their 50’s with no risk factors, research does prove that having mammograms every two years is reasonable.
However, I do believe it is important to get a baseline mammogram at age 40, and earlier if you do have any type of risk factors in your family….. or even for the reason of obtaining some peace of mind for yourself.
My friend Robin was diagnosis with advanced breast cancer at age 40, which was not palpable on self breast exam. Her life was saved because of this detection, so I do believe in baseline mammograms. It's a big expense for the population to burden, but young lives are saved, and who can put a price on that?
AND I still believe in self breast examinations. Women and men both need to be aware and actively engaged in monitoring their own health and be familiar with their own bodies inside and out.
I believe two key factors in staying healthy are:
1. Know your body, know what is normal so you can identify changes that occur, and be your own advocate.
2. Find a doctor you are comfortable with and develop a close working relationship, so together you can come up with a plan that is best for your specific health situation. Good two-way communication is worth striving for in a doctor patient relationship.
Remember it’s always been and still is- “the practice” of medicine. Question everything and ask for 2nd opinions if your instincts tell you something is not right.