Friday, January 15, 2016

Those pesky breast cancer screening recommendations

Can I ask who is confused over the 'revised' breast cancer screening guidelines? Or should I just ask who isn't confused? Yes, no, yes, maybe, no one, everyone? How old? Not that young, should be older. Well maybe not. Not for everyone. Wait, oh just test everyone. No only for some people, talk to your doctor. That's a lot of different answers.

And in both my cancers I was clearly not a candidate for hitting the so called criteria for any testing. So I just ignore all the comments about too young or too old. Those really should be less likely or more likely instead of age related if you ask me. But they didn't ask me.

Anyway, so the USPTF (US Preventative Task Force) released a clarification on their breast cancer screenings earlier this week. They also claim they were misunderstood. And they want to clear up confusion. Well maybe the confusion was because what they said back in 2009 concerned everyone.

"The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released its final recommendations for breast cancer screening Monday in an attempt to clear up some of the confusion.

The group recommends that women at average risk for breast cancer should have a mammogram every other year beginning at age 50 up to the age of 74. Women in their 40s are advised to make an individual decision in partnership with their doctors, since the likelihood of benefiting from screening is lower for women in that age group.

Though this is an update from the group’s 2009 recommendations, the guidelines remain largely unchanged and a draft was released earlier this year.

The report, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, also concluded that there’s not enough evidence to determine if newer 3D mammography is a good option for routine screening, or if women with dense breasts need extra testing.

The group’s 2009 report drew controversy for questioning the usefulness of mammograms for women in their 40s. But the task force says their words were widely misunderstood."


Blah, blah, blah. So in their clarification here they state that a mammogram every other year is all that is needed starting at age 50 if you have average risk. Let me ask all my friends in their 40's with breast cancer what they think if they had waited until 50 for a mammogram.

Okay, so medically maybe there is some logic in their plan. Or maybe not. If you look at breast cancer occurrence rates (from Cancer.gov):

Age 30 . . . . . . 0.44 percent (or 1 in 227)
Age 40 . . . . . . 1.47 percent (or 1 in 68)
Age 50 . . . . . . 2.38 percent (or 1 in 42)
Age 60 . . . . . . 3.56 percent (or 1 in 28)
Age 70 . . . . . . 3.82 percent (or 1 in 26)

It sees clear that most breast cancers occur after the age 40. So I don't understand this wait until 50 business at all. Now I am even more confused.

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