The debate rages over the “magical age of the mammogram”. The media fuels concerns by making statements about the risks of mammography for young women. It’s been reported that radiation exposure, stress of “over-diagnosis”, biopsy and the period waiting for results, creates overwhelming anxiety for women. There is no question all of this is stressful. However, as a young breast cancer survivor I find this reporting infuriating. I was only 25 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and luckily, my doctor did send me to get a mammogram instead of telling me “don’t worry, it’s nothing; you are too young”. Luckily, my cancer was caught early and I underwent conservative treatment to increase the probability of success.
My experience compels me to encourage women to have a mammogram, if warranted, regardless of age, and proceed with further diagnostic tests if necessary. It’s far better to know the results, good or bad, than wait until the “magical age of mammogram”, (in my case it would have been 25 years later if I followed the recommendations) where the outcome/treatment options are likely to be far more aggressive and the prognosis worse. Through my own treatment, support groups, and general awareness, I’ve learned that breast cancer is no longer an older woman’s disease. No, not every twenty five year old woman will be diagnosed with breast cancer, but unfortunately an increasing number of women under the age of 40 are being diagnosed everyday. I guess the lesson from all of this is do what YOU think is best for YOU.
Here are my personal recommendations:
Do your self -exams every month!
Trust your instincts.
Talk with a trusted doctor especially if you have a family history.
Obtain a second opinion.
Early detection is the key to survival. A breast cancer diagnosis is no longer a death sentence especially if it’s found early.