Posted on November 19, 2009. Filed under: Health and Wellness... |



UPDATED:  Saturday, November 21, 2009 5:41 PM (My original post follows my update)


More on this sore subject…


Today’s healthcare legislation vote in the Senate – Slavery?




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On Monday, the United States Preventive Service Task Force (USPSTF) released a new set of recommendations changing the guidelines for mammography and are no longer recommending an annual mammogram for women from ages 40 to 49.  They claim that the benefits of the testing do not outweigh the harms or the risks.  What harms and risks?  The benefits are that these women will be able to live long and fruiitful lives with their loved ones.  What’s the risk in that?  They say that women should be tested from ages 50-70.  What about women under age 50 and over 70?  They get breast cancer as well—breast cancer doesn’t age discriminate.  What are they thinking?  So, in essence, they’re saying that if you’re under 50 and over 70 years old, it’s "just a waste of funds"!  The American Cancer Society came out quickly and opposed these guidelines set forth by the UTPSTF.  Their argument is that this is motivated only by cost cutting, and they are not worried about the women who suffer from cancer, some who potentially die from breast cancer, especially if not caught early.  The current guidelines set by the American Cancer Association state that woman from the age of 40 should have yearly mammograms, and continue throughout her life.  The USPSTF believes this is not necessary, stating that a woman before the age of 50 should consider screening every two years only if they are at a high risk.  You have got to be kidding me!!!
When I heard this story, my first thought was it’s the first step towards rationing with Obama’s poor excuse of health care.  It should really be called Obama’s health IDon’tCare.  Of course, we’re hearing that Kathleen Sebelius, Obama’s Health and Human Services Secretary, is "going on the record" stating that women should be screened at 40, not 50.  I just can’t bring myself to believe this statement.  There have been countless lies coming from this administration so whatever they say or whatever they say they do, I automatically believe the opposite.  Clearly, this is a way to cut the cost of health care, and it’s at the expense of womens’ lives in this country.  I know first-hand that breast cancer hits young women—two of my sisters had invasive breast cancer, and if it wasn’t for self-examinations and early screenings, they might not be here today.  I’m happy to say they they’re both breast cancer survivors.  Mammograms aren’t the only screening that needs to be performed on women, young and old.  Case in point:  One of my sister’s breast cancer didn’t show up with a mammogram.  Younger women have denser breasts so sometimes irregularities don’t show.  Because there was a small lump, they performed an ultrasound which confirmed her fears.  If Obama’s health care rationing was in place then, she probably would have been denied both tests because of her age and because of the cost of performing two tests, which in this case, actually saved her beautiful life.  Women in their 20s and 30s are developing breast cancer every day, and to deny them the screening that could possibly save their lives down the road is an outrage!
Women all over the country are expressing their anger and frustration over these guidelines, especially since the health care bill is now in the hands of the Senate—our lives and freedoms are now in their hands.  If they don’t filibuster this bill, we’re all at risk.  The government will be cutting a lot of corners in order to cut costs, even at the risk of losing American lives.  Maybe this is their way of "thinning out the herd".  Guys, don’t think you dodged a bullet here.  I’m sure increasing the age guidelines for prostate cancer screening is just around the corner…

Cancer survivors object to mammogram guidelines
Published: Thursday, November 19, 2009


"If I had waited until I was 50, I would be dead," said Dorene Wilson, a Waterford Township mother of three who was diagnosed with breast cancer Sept. 11 at the age of 42.

Like Wilson, breast cancer survivors Glenda Coudret of Waterford Township and Maryl Tull Bulgandorph of Birmingham say there is no reason women should wait until the age of 50 to have regular mammograms.

The three women were reacting to the recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that Monday said most women don’t need annual mammograms in their 40s and should get one only every two

years starting at age 50. Only women who have risk factors should continue to get regular screenings, according to the task force recommendations.

This is a reversal and a break with the American Cancer Society’s longstanding position. Most Oakland County physicians interviewed Wednesday were surprised at the recommendations and are adamantly opposed to changing them, saying early detection saves lives.

The task force, a government panel of doctors and scientists, concluded that such early and frequent screenings often lead to false alarms and unneeded biopsies, without substantially improving women’s odds of survival.

In addition, the panel said that doctors do not need to teach women how to do self-examinations as has been the standard practice for many years.

But Coudret, now 38, was 34 when she was diagnosed with cancer, and Bulgandorph was 46 when she learned she had cancer almost 15 years ago.

If anything, the recommended age for mammograms should be lowered not raised, Coudret said.

"I would not have seen my son Griffen (Tull, 27, Birmingham) graduate from high school" if her cancer had not been detected early, Bulgandorph said.

Both women noticed symptoms through self-examinations and were referred by their physicians for a mammogram that confirmed their suspicions.

In Wilson’s case, tumors were detected in a routine mammogram at a time when she had no suspicion anything was wrong, she said.

"I went in to have a mammogram Sept. 11 and I was told I had cancer Sept. 11. It was aggressive," said Wilson.

Wilson has had bilateral breast surgery on both breasts after discussing it with her doctor and doing much research on her own.

"I think women need to get mammograms even earlier than age 35. I had it (cancer) a couple of years. I caught it early, thank God."

Because of that she was not required to have chemotherapy and radiation.

Among the Oakland County physicians who are vehemently opposed to the task force recommendations is Wilson’s physician, Dr. Amy Kirby, director of breast services and a breast surgeon at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland. Kirby and some doctors from Royal Oak Beaumont and Crittenton Hospital in Rochester questioned the motive for the study.

Kirby said, "I don’t agree with the recommendations at all. I see many women in their 40s diagnosed with breast cancer.

"The chance is about 1 in 70 that a woman in her 40s will have breast cancer, so it is not that low," Kirby said.

"I also disagree with recommendations that women stop screening over the age of 70. Your risk of breast cancer goes up with age. That is the age when mammogram detection is most successful because they don’t have dense breast tissue," said Kirby.

She said the more recently developed digital mammograms are more effective in younger women, whose breast tissue is more dense, a technology Kirby said did not exist during the time of the studies used by the task force.

Kirby and the other physicians support teaching self-examination.

"I have many patients who find their own breast cancers. There is no cost and there is no risk," Kirby said.

If they take their concern to an experienced surgeon, there will be few unnecessary biopsies.

Dr. Katharine Scharer, vice chief of radiology at Crittenton, said: "The recommendations have put a lot of women at risk of dying of breast cancer.

"We have made advances. We started screening in the 1990s and breast cancer mortality decreased by 30 percent. And those rates had not changed over the previous 50 years.

"We are not going to catch it as early, which is the only chance for a cure," if the new recommendations are followed by doctors and insurance companies, she said.

Scharer said at least 40 percent of patients whose lives are saved because of mammograms are age 40 to 49.

"They are not looking at scientific evidence. They basically looked at it because they wanted to reduce cost in patient care," Scharer alleged.

Dr. Murray Rebner, co-director of the Vattikuti Digital Diagnostic breast imaging and intervention center at Beaumont Hospital Royal Oak, said he was outraged when he saw the new recommendations.

"I think it is a slap in the face to American women," Rebner said. "Their own study shows there was a 15 percent mortality reduction for women in their 40s."

Rebner said the study also failed to take into account a Swedish screening trial that has been the basic foundation of the American Cancer Society’s recommendation for annual screenings.

"They ignored most of (the) data and used models that were math-based and did not correlate with each other. I think the science was flawed to begin with and ended up with recommendations that could cause irreconcilable harm to the feminine population.

"They compared women in their 40s to women 50 to 74. That’s ridiculous. There won’t be as big a benefit in 10 years as in 25 years. The American Cancer Society has done the best job in looking at the data and many other organizations have stood with, and said that these recommendations are useless.

"My concern is women will choose not to get screened, especially women in their 40s, who tend to have cancers that are more aggressive. Women 50 and older who get screened every other year may have tumors that go longer rather than get picked up at an early stage and have better results."

Rebner said he thinks there were "ulterior motives" in appointing a task force to study the issue.

"The whole issue of how to pay for health care is going on. Perhaps this is a potentially valuable way to save money. If this is the way the government is going about to ration health care, we are in a lot of trouble."

Dr. Jeffrey Obron, of Women’s Health and Menopause Center in West Bloomfield, said physicians should have an open mind to the new information.

"This is one study out of hundreds published over 10 years looking at mammography as a screening tool. Every time there is a new study it is important that we read it and talk about it with our patients."

However, he strongly disagrees with not teaching patients self-examination. About 20 percent of tumors are missed with mammograms, so it is important that a woman do self-examination and know her own body, he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.




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