Speaking of bras…
…let’s talk about breasts.
This week, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPTF) released a new set of recommendations for breast cancer screening that turns on it’s head what women have come to expect as far as screening for breast cancer, the second leading cause of death in American women.
Recommending that women not receive mammograms until the age of 50 and then once every other year after that, the USPSTF has concluded that “the current evidence is insufficient to assess the additional benefits and harms of clinical breast examination beyond screening mammography in women 40 years of age or older.”
That part about “current evidence is insufficient to assess the additional benefits and harms” raised my eyebrows. Insufficient evidence to make a call either way? So that means this influential panel upends the current protocol—mammograms every one to two years beginning at age 40— instead of sticking with it?
Call me crazy but the new guideline instantly made me think this is has something to do with money. But what really got my hackles up was this next part about how the USPSTF “recommends against clinicians teaching women how to perform breast self-examination.”
Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!? As if the first part of this announcement wasn’t disturbing enough on its own, this second bit feels utterly irresponsible and lazy and callous and pitiable and oy vey, I need a drink. Or a bong hit. Or a shopping spree at Anthropologie with Michael Bloomberg’s credit card.
Now, perhaps there’s a reasonable reason for postponing mammograms. Probably not, given all that copious “insufficient evidence,” but I’m willing to suspend disbelief for a moment and offer a one-time-only benefit of a doubt on this one. I’m feeling generous today. But how, how, HOW can it be bad for a woman to learn what her normal breast tissue feels like? Someone? Anyone? Bueller? Because if you know normal breast tissue when you feel it, you will know abnormal breast tissue when you feel it. You feel me? Which makes me think immediately of my friend Amanda.
Isn’t she gorgeous? Vivacious? Young? Indeed. Gorgeous, vivacious, young Amanda found a lump in her breast with her very own fingers and was diagnosed with stage-3b breast cancer when she was just 27 years old.
Amanda is a breast cancer survivor. You can read Amanda’s story here.
I’m curious to know: How do you women (and my male readers, too) feel about this dramatic shift in women’s health care? Do you feel like maybe we’re getting the shaft? Just a little?