Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mammograms aren't as useful after breast cancer

Well, yip-diddy-doo-dah! After breast cancer treatment, they send you on your way in your life and tell you, 'be vigilant, follow up with your doctors, and get regular mammograms'. Now they say 'mammograms are not as useful after breast cancer - they are less effective/less sensitive. The study (of course another study) recommends ultrasounds, MRIs and possibly the new 3D mammograms which were just approved by the FDA.

Thank you for confusing me and stressing me out some more (I am supposed to reduce the stress in my life). I do know where I go for treatment, first of all if you have any previous history, you get the specialized super duper digital mammograms as opposed to the regular digital mammograms. And if there is any question, you get sent for an ultrasound right then and there. But an MRI as well? I'll have to ask both my doctors and my insurance company.

I know I have blogged about this before but the continued new studies and medical advances, while they show progress and advances, they also have a niggling way of tugging at the back of your mind - what if the treatment I got was proved to be ineffective or even harmful?

I know we have learned in the past centuries that leeches and blood letting is not necessarily the best treatment for the flu. Or that while bottles of a snake oil salesman's opiates sold in the 18th and 19th centuries will certainly make you feel better but wont due much for curing you as well. More recent treatments, such as treatment for lymphoma involving radiation to the chest has cured one ailment but resulted in breast cancer decades later in many of those treated. These were the best standard of care at the time.

But as medical science progresses, will any of the treatments that I have received turn out to be ineffective or have caused long term harm to my body? I just have to stop holding my breath and go about my life and hope for the best. Because there is no way of knowing what will be learned in the future.

3 comments:

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Cynthia said...

Moving forward seems to be the only option, Caroline. I hear you. Some days I regret having read the news when I hear this stuff. My last mammogram was a repeat of the one that found the cancer - film, after film, after film, while the radiologist tried to determine whether what he was seeing was a lymph node or not. Some days I wish there was an armour I could put on over my heart.

I am thankful for the signs of spring outside these days. A lovely distraction.