Letter: Cautionary tale for new mammogram guidelines

By on November 19, 2009

Regarding the new guidelines for getting mammograms, let me just say this:

Throughout my 30s and 40s, I routinely got a yearly mammogram just because. I didn’t have a family history, nor could I feel any lumps or bumps. I guess you could say it seemed the right thing to do considering there’s no way to prevent breast cancer. Rather, your best shot at surviving the disease is to catch it early.

What I didn’t know at the time is that 80 percent of women who get breast cancer don’t have a family history. Likewise, I also didn’t know there are different kinds of breast cancers, and the kinds you get in your 30s and 40s tend to be far more virulent, far more deadly than the kinds you get in your 50s and later.

Even though I wasn’t as informed as I should have been, I still got the yearly screening test which turned out to be a good thing. Persistence (combined with a measure of dumb luck) paid off when doctors discovered a 1.5 centimeter tumor stuck to my back chest wall while I was still in my 40s.

I’m fine now and have been for quite some time. But the end of this story could have been much different had I waited until my 50s to start getting screened.

Please take this as the cautionary tale it’s meant to be.

Kay Catlin
St. Charles

One Comment

  1. RM

    November 21, 2009 at 8:20 AM

    My daughter had 2 breast masses excised at the age of 16! These advisory panels could be deciding the future of health care and insurance coverage for women. Given the recent release on guidelines by ACOG for pap smears and the new guidelines for breast screenings, it appears the goal is set back women’s health to what it was in the 1950’s or 60’s. This is very disturbing and all women should be concerned.