Thursday, June 10, 2010

Save the Ta-Tas

So, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released new information recently stating that they no longer believe mammograms are necessary for women under 50. Apparently, because “the 10-year breast cancer risk for a 40-year-old is only 1.4%, their absolute reduction in death is very small.”

Ok, so saving 1.4 percent of lives isn’t worthwhile then? What percentage would be worthwhile? Who decides that number?

The report further states that women under 50 who receive mammograms are at risk for “false alarms.” A false positive will cause them “additional pain, expense and worry because of additional scans and biopsies.”

Well, yes, but won’t they feel so much better once they realize they are cancer-free? Wouldn’t most women choose a false positive at 35 rather than a definite positive at 50?

Then of course, both sides of the debate are presented. The under-50 group believes that mammograms have reduced mortality rates by 30 percent. The over-50 group claims that mammograms still miss very aggressive cancers that can spring up between screenings. They believe the results of mammograms are overly hyped.

Ok, sure, it might not catch all cancers, but isn’t some better than nothing? Thirty percent (of what I assume is all women with breast cancer who were diagnosed under 50) is a whole lot of women. Let’s put it in perspective. If out of 100 women, 30 were saved, that is an entire class of first graders who didn’t lose their mothers. It is a transit bus full of people who didn’t lose their sisters. It is a plane full of men who did not lose their wives. Now magnify that by the thousands, nay millions of women, the reduced screenings would eliminate from the world. Schools full of children, parking lots full of buses, airfields lined with planes – all filled with grieving family members. I think 30 percent is worthwhile, don’t you?

This entire concept is a head scratcher. I honestly don’t understand why anyone would choose to put women at risk rather than just get them tested. The test itself isn’t invasive, just embarrassing. I just had my first mammogram and what the technician did to my boobs was nothing short of miraculous. My voluptuous womanhood was mashed between two plates of plastic to become nothing more than a boob pancake. This was done a few different times in a few different ways. For some it may be painful, but for me it was just odd. I haven’t been that manhandled since high school. The entire test took 10 minutes. The government mandates a 15 minute break for every four hours of work. It can't spring for a once a year test that takes less time than the average coffee break? Even adding in the travel time to and from the office and waiting time, the test took an hour. I think out of 525,600 minutes in a year, women can spare 60 to make sure they live another one. And I think it is a crime if they have to pay for the privilage of doing so.

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