Cancer and Mammograms

Every year breast cancer affects American women either through one’s own diagnosis or through a sister, wife, mother, grandmother, or friend. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that women under the age of 40 perform monthly breast self-examinations and receive clinical breast self-examinations yearly. Furthermore, ACS also recommends annual mammograms for all women beginning at the age 40, and continuing them as long as the woman is in good health. However, the U. S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends mammograms once every two years for all women from ages 50 to 74, which has caused some controversy over the years.

The USPSTF’s recommendations have become very controversial. The USPSTF’s recommendation that mammography screening to detect breast cancer be scaled back has caused consternation among women and doctors and prompted some attempts to connect the results to the debate over health care (New York Times). Through experience and research, this paper will express reasons as to why mammograms are important and moreover why it is important to begin breast cancer education and awareness at an early age. Personally, I would have to have to agree with the American Cancer Society, because a routine mammogram saved my life.

A mammogram is a series of specialized X-rays of the breast used to detect abnormal growths or changes in the breast tissue (WebMD). A mammogram can detect early stages of breast cancer. It’s important for women of all ages to understand the importance of mammograms and to understand the importance of taking care of your body at an early age. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women today (after lung cancer) and is the most common cancer among women. In 2011, an estimated 230,480 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, according to the new report.

About 39,520 women will die from the disease in 2011. Beside skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer seen among American women (Mann). Mammograms are the best way to detect breast cancer, although they are not perfect. An estimated 28 million women have mammograms annually. Fifteen percent of breast cancer will go undetected, while 85% will be detected. On average 20% – 40% of breast cancer is missed in the first screening. Even though it is always better to be safe than sorry, women do not like the anticipation and anxiety that comes with getting the results of mammograms.

Dr. Michael Baum of University College in London, stated, “The latest evidence shifts the balance towards harm and away from benefits. ” Canadian columnist Dr. W. Gifford -Jones, wrote that women between the ages of 40 and 49 who have regular mammograms are twice as likely to die from breast cancer as women who are not screened. “Experts say you have to screen 2,000 women for 10 years for one benefit,” he stated. In September 2000 a Canadian research team released the results of a 13-year study of approximately 40,000 women aged 50 to 59.

From 1980 to 1993, researchers followed the progress of two groups of women: those who received only yearly physical exams and those who received annual physicals as well as a yearly mammogram. Researchers found that while more cancers were detected in the women who’d received mammography, their death rates from the disease were no lower than the rates among women who had physical exams only. The researchers’ conclusion: yearly mammograms did not necessarily lead to an increase in survival rates once cancers were discovered.

Breast cancer survivor Ann Silberman disagreed. Silberman, of Sacramento, Calif., stopped having her yearly mammograms before she was 50. “It was laziness,” said Silberman, 52. “I was busy. I had my second child when I was 39, so I was busy raising him and working and kept feeling like I didn’t have time. I didn’t even think about it. ” Silberman was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer last year. After six rounds of chemotherapy and a mastectomy, Silberman says getting her yearly mammograms might have changed her diagnosis completely. “If I had been more diligent, if I had gotten my mammograms, it probably would have been discovered at a much earlier stage,” she said.

“I could have had treatment for a month or two. Now I’ve been in treatment for 16 months. ” (Tellam) My argument would be the same as Ann Silberman’s, a mammogram saved her life as well as mines. According to the World Health Organization, more than 1. 2 million people (men and women) will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year worldwide. Mammograms are the most important early detection tool and the most accurate but let’s not forget self-breast exams are just as important. This is important in an academic setting because colleges and university should encourage young women (ages 18-24) as well to perform their self-breast exams.

Self-breast exams start as early as 18 years of age. Sometimes college students get caught up in the college life, the drinking, the partying and studying for exams that they forget to also take care of their health. One of the ways that they should take care of their health is by making sure they are performing their self-breast exams. Alcohol has been linked to breast cancer. Women who drink as little as one alcoholic beverage a day — be it beer, wine, or hard liquor — have an increased cancer risk, a study shows (Boyles). Younger women generally do not consider themselves to be at risk for breast cancer.

Statistics show fewer than 7% of all breast cancer cases occur in women under 40 years old (Web MD). Breast cancer can strike at any age, and women of every age should be aware of their personal risk factors for breast cancer. This is very important information for women of all ages to know and understand so this is another reason I feel this would be an important topic to discuss within an academic setting. Diagnosing breast cancer in younger women (under 40 years old) is more difficult because their breast tissue is generally denser than the breast tissue in older women.

So if younger women would know this at an early age, they will be able to detect or notice the signs of any abnormalities within their breast. By the time a lump in a younger woman’s breast can be felt, the cancer often is advanced. Breast cancer activists, like the Susan G. Komen Foundation, is urging world leaders about the need to make education about breast cancer, screening and treatments a priority. Moreover, information drive on the early detection of breast cancer is a must in order for the women across all ages to be aware of this silent killer disease, and have a better prognosis.

This should also be taught within colleges especially as women get older and are ready to graduate. Works Cited “New Research Questions Effectiveness of Mammograms. ” news. medill. northwestern. edu, Kristen Tellam, Web. 18 September 2011. “Breast Cancer in Young Women. ” webmd. com, webmd, n. d, 18 September 2011 http://www. nytimes. com/2009/11/20/opinion/20fri1. html, 29 September 2011 “Breast Cancer Death Rates Decline,” webmd. com, Denise Mann, 29 September 2011 “Alcohol Linked to Cancer Risk in Women,” webmd. com, Salynn Boyles, 1 October 2011.

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