October 24, 2015: What Does ACS Really Say? What Do I Think?

I’ve heard a lot of chatter and have seen a lot of negative chatter about the American Cancer Society’s changes to breast cancer early detection guidelines. 

Please read them first. This comes directly from their site: (I’ve bolded some keywords)

The American Cancer Society recommends these cancer screening guidelines for most adults. Screening tests are used to find cancer before a person has any symptoms.

Visit our website, www.cancer.org, or call our toll-free number, 1-800-227-2345, to get more details on our cancer screening guidelines or to learn more about what you can do to help reduce your risk of getting cancer.

Breast cancer

Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) if they wish to do so.

Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.

Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening.

Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.

All women should be familiar with the known benefits, limitations, and potential harms linked to breast cancer screening. They also should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast changes to a health care provider right away.

Some women – because of their family history, a genetic tendency, or certain other factors – should be screened with MRIs along with mammograms. (The number of women who fall into this category is very small.) Talk with a health care provider about your risk for breast cancer and the best screening plan for you.
I’d like to take a moment to share my own thoughts about this if you don’t mind. 

  1. The way these new recommendations were first portrayed to me was completely different than what this says. 
  2. I’ve had breast cancer. I’ve personally known others who’ve had breast cancer. My grandmother died of breast cancer. My two younger sisters found out they had the genetic gene, BRAC 2, before getting breast cancer. My daughter could also have the gene but can’t be tested until she’s 18. We’ve all needed to be treated and screened very differently. I think that’s what these guidelines are saying. Everyone is different, so let’s treat them differently. 
  3. My 1st, 2nd & 3rd mammogram (all done within days of each other by the way) all showed absolutely nothing irregular or abnormal. I had breast cancer! The radiation from those 3 mammograms fed my tumor.   The one they already knew I had. The one we could all feel. The one we saw on an ultra sound. Please think about that for a second. Why were 3 mammograms done on three generations of mammogram machines? Medical protocol? Insurance companies? I have no idea, but, in my opinion, they were pain I could have avoided. Does this mean I’m against mammograms? Absolutely not! I think they have a time and place, but in my case they should have been able to bypass it. 
  4. Are mammograms more dangerous than they are helpful? There was research about this ACS took into account when they made the new recommendations. Remember radiation from the mammograms might actually cause breast cancer! That’s a little scary to me. That makes me think twice. It makes me worry for my daughter especially if she tests positive for the BRAC gene. 
  5. Here’s a huge problem I think we as women need to fix. Most don’t know what healthy female parts are supposed to feel like because we aren’t the ones typically touching ourselves. Did you know more lumps are said to be found by a woman’s partner than by herself? Why? Because they know your body better than you do. You argue and make excuses. You can’t do that if you know what your “normal” feels and looks like. My best advice to everyone now is know your body and know it well! It could save your life. 
  6. These are just recommendations. You aren’t held to them. 
  7. Know your family history. If cancer plays a role in it, talk to your doctor. Know your environment. If you live in an area where cancer is prevalent, talk to your doctor. Know how nutrition, or the lack there of, water, rest, exercise and stress effect your body. If we would all take better care of ourselves, we would probably save this country millions of dollars. 
  8. Women, let’s step up and change the number of women getting breast cancer. Let’s help each other become healthier. Let’s support one another through the tough times in life. Let’s counsel and mentor one another. It won’t kill us. In fact, it might just save us all! 
  9. We are our own greatest advocate. We are also our own greatest enemy. Many more die of breast cancer because they refuse to stop, refuse to take care of themselves, refuse to take time to know their bodies, and refuse to seek medical care when they first notice something has changed than because they didn’t get a mammogram every year. This is a very sad fact. Women, we must take better care of ourselves!
  10. I’m stepping off my soapbox with this parting comment – Please do your own research on breast cancer. There’s a lot of misleading information out there. If you have questions, talk to your doctor and not just the Internet. Remember doctors have degrees 

About courage2conquercancer

At the age of 40, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This is an account of my journey from my discovery and beyond.
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