Valley Reaction to New Mammogram Guidelines

November 18, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
The backlash continues to grow over new government guidelines concerning mammograms. Those guidelines say women in the 40's don't need mammograms. Only women over 50 should be screened for breast cancer ... and only every two years. Doctors and hospitals all over the country have come out in opposition to the new guidelines ... and according to an Exclusive Action News Poll most valley residents won't be following the new guidelines either.Thirty-five year old Gail Fry of Fresno is a wife and stepmom to two teenage girls. She has no family history of breast cancer and has never noticed any lumps in her breasts. Nevertheless her doctor ordered a mammogram for her last spring - just to have a baseline for comparison when Fry turned 40. Fry says without the mammogram she never would have made it to age 40 ... let alone 50.

The mammogram detected an aggressive, fast growing form of breast cancer. When Fry heard about the new guidelines for mammography ... she became angry.

Fry said, "I think they're ludicrous ... I think it's ridiculous ... I think I'd rather have "maybe I'm positive rather than not live!"

According to our Exclusive Poll Conducted by SurveyUSA most valley residents agree with fry.

Asked whether the guidelines are a good idea ... only 19 percent agreed ... 72 percent said they were a bad idea.

Women over 35 were asked whether the guidelines would affect how often they will get future mammograms ... 26 percent responded yes ... but 65 percent said it would have no affect.

Fresno OB/GYN Dr. Radon Steinke says half a dozen of his patients were diagnosed with breast cancer in just the last three weeks ... all in their forties. He says early detection is saving lives.

Dr. Steinke said, "The incidence of breast cancer has grown very rapidly in the last couple of years ... and it's because we've gone to digital mammograms ... this is in the last year or two ... the rate of breast cancer has gone up because we're catching it much earlier. The death rate of breast cancer is actually doing down."

Even Kaiser Permanente announced it is not changing any policy based on these new guidelines.

Dr. Amanda Reeve, a Kaiser Hospital OB/GYN said, "We still recommend ... as we did before ... age 40 to 69 every one to two years."

And though the new guidelines also say self breast exams do no good ... Kaiser Doctor Amanda Reeve disagrees ... as does Dr. Steinke ... who says ten percent of his patients who have cancer found it themselves.


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