Monday, October 26, 2015

What You Need to Know About the American Cancer Society's New Breast Cancer Guidelines

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, but breast cancer is a topic that should always be on our minds. One of the most important things we can do, men and women, is to be life-long learners. Stay informed, especially with new guidelines.

I recently learned of the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) guidelines for women at average risk for breast cancer. They include the following:
  • Delay mammograms for 5 years. Instead of the previously recommended yearly mammogram starting at 40 years, the ACS now recommends mammograms begin at 45 years.
  • At 55 years, women should have mammograms every other year.
  • It goes a step further and recommends women forgo clinical breast exams and self-exams.

(American Cancer Society, October 20, 2015)

Thinking about the ACS’s new guidelines reminds me of the time I received a bill from a medical center. I was shocked by the amount. I noticed my insurance coverage had changed. My insurance company at the time no longer paid for certain tests. I mentioned this to one of my health care professionals during my next visit, and the health care professional said something startling to me. It went something like this: If people don’t have the money to pay for tests and treatments because insurance companies won’t pay for them, they probably won’t get the tests and treatments. As a result, a person’s life could be shortened. But, it saves the insurance companies money.

I'm not the only one who is uncomfortable with the new breast cancer guidelines:

                                                 (CBS This Morning, October 21, 2015)

  • Will insurance companies follow the new guidelines? If so, how many women, 40-44 years old, will forgo mammograms?
  • How many women know if their breast cancer risks are average or high?
  • How many women have found a cancerous lump during a breast self-exam?
  • How many doctors have found a cancerous lump during a clinical exam?
  • How many mammograms detected a cancerous lump in women ages 56, 58, 60 . . . respectively (every other year after 55 years)?
The answers to these questions are important because these women’s lives are important—more important than the statistics and money spent on false positives.

How will you join the fight against breast cancer? This is the story in you. Share it.


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American Cancer Society. (October 20, 2015). American Cancer Society breast cancer screening guidelines overview. Retrieved from

CBS This Morning. (October 21, 2015). Controversial new mammogram set later testing age. Retrieved from

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