Local reaction to breast cancer screening guidelines - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Local reaction to breast cancer screening guidelines

By Colleen Donovan - bio | email | Twitter

HATTIESBURG, MS. (WDAM) - New guidelines addressing breast cancer screenings by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force advise against routine mammograms for women ages forty to forty nine. They also recommend against the teaching of self breast examinations. That has local breast cancer patient advocates like Susan Light, co-founder of the Pink Ribbon Fund concerned.

"The whole prospect of not starting mammograms until fifty and not doing self exams is appalling to me," said Light.

The task force's guidelines call for mammogram screenings every two years for women ages fifty to seventy four. Light said her work in helping breast cancer patients pay for their treatment confirms younger women are being diagnosed with breast cancer.

According to Light, "We have seen an up tick in our applications from women in their thirties. I feel like if you wait until you are fifty to start getting your mammograms, you are missing a window of opportunity for an early diagnosis."

Dr. Jennifer Bailey is an ob/gyn with the Hattiesburg Clinic. She said doctors in her department will likely practice under the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists or ACOG's guidelines.

"And that still recommends one to two year mammograms at forty, yearly at age fifty. And we still do recommend breast self exams to women since they can find their own lump themselves."

The government panel's recommendations have created concerns in the wake of health care reform discussions that mammograms for women under fifty may not be covered or that private insurance companies may change their coverage. Dr. Bailey said those fears are legitimate.

"Both U.S. Preventative Task Force and AGOC are recommending still that the decision be left in the hands of the physician and the patient and that is a concern for physicians especially in this climate. We want to make sure that the legislation that comes out still gives the power to the patient and the physician to make the right clinical decision, and not placed in some sort of box on what we can and can not do," said Bailey.

As for women at high risk for breast cancer due to family history, Dr. Bailey says genetic counseling and testing services are available in addition to routine screenings.

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