Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mammograms or Mammon?

There are forces out there that want to cut back on mammograms to save money for health insurance companies and federal and state health insurance programs.

Dr. Daniel B. Kopans wrote about this problem on the opinion page of last Friday's Wall Street Journal.


If I hadn't had my annual mammogram, I wouldn't have been told I needed additional screening (in my case, an ultrasound).  I wouldn't known about the mass in my left breast, which was biopsied and turned out to be stage 1 cancer.  

My cancer wouldn't have been detected for another year or two--and by then, it would have been stage 2 or greater.

I'm grateful for my mammogram and for the radiologist who looked at it and recommended follow-up screening, even though on the basis of the x-ray alone my breast looked "normal but with dense tissue."

Hooray for Dr. Geeta Iyengar at Women's Imaging, 2811 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA.  Her recommendation may have saved my life.

40% of women have dense breast tissue, which causes a mammogram to show lots of white lines and patches, perhaps none of them cancer.

Women 40 and over need to get an annual mammogram, and if we have dense breast tissue, we also need an ultrasound.  Women under 40 who have family history of breast cancer need to start screening earlier.

The US Preventive Services Task Force decided in 2009 to recommend a cut back on mammograms, saying women don't need them annually until age 50 and older.  Why?  To save money.  At that time the Affordable Care Act was being debated, and cutting down on medical services was a way to make the ACA look less expensive.

God or mammon?  Women's health or saving money?

As the King James Bible says in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6, verse 24:

"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."

I began another blog just for notes and news on breast cancer, which I will mostly keep out of this blog.  To see today's post responding to the issue raised by Dr. Kopans, go to the blog and select the post for May 27, 2014.


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