Long-time visitors to AAR After Hours may know what’s coming. Yes, it’s time for my yearly health nag about mammograms.
This past week, I went in for my yearly diagnostic mammogram, which marked my hitting the 10-year mark as a breast cancer survivor, which is a pretty big deal as far as I’m concerned.
Once again, I went through the usual worries and stress as the day for my mammogram got closer. And once again, I felt unbelievable relief and joy when the radiologist called me in after she examined the pictures to tell me that everything was fine, and I didn’t need to come back for another year.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve made it my personal mission to nag all of my female friends and relatives over the age of 40 to get a yearly mammogram. This past year, things got much more complicated when the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that women not begin getting mammograms until they reach the age of 50.
This recommendation was extremely controversial. The American Cancer Society still recommends that women 40 and older get a yearly screening mammogram. The National Cancer Institute lists a recommendation that women 40 and older get a screening mammogram every one to two years.
What does all this mean to me. On a personal note, if I had waited until after I was 50 to get my first mammogram, the breast cancer that they found would have had years more to grow. If I had to develop breast cancer, I’m at least grateful that it happened when the recommendations were more clear cut for women 40 and older.
What should this mean for women over 40? The best thing I can suggest is that you talk with your own doctor, and get her recommendations.From what I’ve heard and read, most doctors continue to recommend yearly mammograms for women over 40.
For me, I’m going to keep nagging my friends to get their yearly mammograms. I was lucky, and I want all of my friends and family to be lucky as well.