As a nurse who has worked in the surgical field for 11 years I am baffled by the new recommendations from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. One of the new guidelines is women should not be taught to do self breast exams. Another is that mammograms are not recommended until age 50, instead of age 40; they are to be done every two years rather than yearly. Herein lies my confusion; the American Cancer Society does not agree with these new recommendations. I have assisted with hundreds of breast surgeries ranging from simple biopsies to full mastectomies.
My grandmother had breast cancer (key word here…HAD), her tumor was diagnosed early from a yearly mammogram. She quickly underwent surgery and a lumpectomy was performed. This is where they remove the tumor and surrounding tissues, instead of removing the whole breast. The removed lump is sent to the lab to be screened for cancerous cells around the margins of the tissue. Luckily my grandmother had clear margins and she did not have to undergo chemotherapy nor radiation. She has been cancer free for over 15 years now.
I realize I am no physician but, I do have common sense. Why as a woman, or man for that matter not continue self breast examinations? It’s a simple concept, whoa, there’s a new lump…what to do? Well, I guess now if you find a new lump, bump or abnormality it’s no big deal, after all most lumps are not cancerous if you are under 50. We sure know that young women or men never develop breast cancer…oh that’s right…YES THEY DO!! So I think I will stick with the advice of the American Cancer Society and go see my physician. I will let my Dr. decide along with the proper measures i.e. mammogram, needle aspiration, ultrasound rather my “lump” is benign or cancerous. I don’t know about you but I would much rather undergo a lumpectomy vs. a mastectomy!! What do you think?