Health Team

Some oncologists still recommend regular mammograms

Posted November 18, 2009
Updated November 19, 2009

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— Gail Heath, a scheduling coordinator at Rex Hospital, has been fielding calls this week from many women asking if new breast screening guidelines mean they should cancel their appointments.

“We are telling our customers, we recommend that you move forward as always,” Heath said.

Rex breast oncologist Dr. Lola Olajide Some doctors recommend regular mammograms

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released updated guidelines this week suggesting women wait until age 50 for a mammography.

The new advice says:

  • Most women in their 40s should not routinely get mammograms.
  • Women 50 to 74 should get a mammogram every other year until they turn 75, after which the risks and benefits are unknown. (The task force's previous guidelines had no upper limit and called for exams every year or two.)
  • The value of breast exams by doctors is unknown. And breast self-exams are of no value.
  • The panel of doctors and scientists concluded that getting screened for breast cancer so early and so often leads to too many false alarms and unneeded biopsies without substantially improving women's odds of survival.

Three weeks ago, Heath, 47, felt a lump in her breast. She said a mammogram revealed a spot that wasn't there last year.

Heath was of average risk until the lump was found. Tests showed it was invasive.

Heath said she is glad she didn’t wait to get a mammogram.

“It would have been a larger tumor, and it maybe and possibly would have invaded more than it has,” Heath said.

Rex breast oncologist Dr. Lola Olajide says she understands the cost-benefit issues that lead the government panel to change mammography recommendations.

One-third of women do not get the recommended screening. Many women get false-positive results, leading to “invasive procedures that may not otherwise have been necessary and can sometimes result in significant complications,” Olajide said.

Olajide still recommends annual mammograms for women 40 and older, as do other major groups like the American Cancer Society.

“The rate of cancer, breast cancer specifically, has been declining in the U.S. over the last few years, and part of that is due to early detection by mammography,” Olajide said.


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  • gdh84 Nov 23, 2009

    OK. I have read some of the comments and as usual who do you blame, President Obama. Are you people serious?? If you would check the facts this was not a study that they just did last year when he became President!!!! You people are so so weak minded when it comes to things now that he is in office. It takes YEARS!!!!!! of research for committees to come up with this information, come on!!! Stop blaming the man for everything that comes out and read ALL of the facts. People please take the “color” glasses off and let’s start working together to get this back to a stronger America!!! By the way I don’t listen to anyone being a breast cancer survivor myself for 5yrs and counting. I was 37 when I was diagnosed with this disease!

  • josephlawrence43 Nov 20, 2009

    Regular checks at what age??? Before 50?? Ohhhhhhhhh---BoBammie is gonna be mad with them--tsk, tsk, tsk. My wife is a breast cancer survivor--and it was a mamogram that detected the cancer. Get ready for it folks--this is the first little step in Obama's health care rationing plan. And when health care is rationed--people die.

  • ciferstr Nov 20, 2009

    If I had waited until 50 I would be dead. My doctor did a mamogram one me at 40 and found a small lump that could not be felt yet in an exam. Had it removed and have be fine ever since. I have mine every year faithfully. As has been already stated, Next insurance companies will only pay for it as recommended by this group of idiots. Better save in these two cases than dead.

  • craziecrafter Nov 19, 2009

    My mother got breast cancer at 35 died at 39. Leaving 5 kids. The youngest was 4 when she died. I was 13. Bull to these specialist. I've had a mammo every year since I was 30 and will continue.

  • Timetogo Nov 19, 2009

    Step 1 in our National Health Care Plan.. Get ready!

  • marciamal1 Nov 19, 2009

    I spoke to a breast cancer awareness group and the youngest woman reported with breast cancer is at the age of 10. Cancer strikes at any age.

  • marciamal1 Nov 19, 2009

    I don't listen to anyone - if I feel I need a mammagram earlier than 50 - i will get one - There have been women younger than 50 coming down with Breastcancer. They need to obtain this info on how many women at different ages get breast cancer and determine by their findings. My friend had breast cancer in her 30's and if it went undetected - she wouldnt be around. I think they need to rethink this.

  • Even Nov 19, 2009

    Read more closely, this is the government organization plan, not the insurance companies. This is getting you ready for national health care. This came out a little too early and not congress is hurrying up to pass the legislation before you all figure it out. Call your representatives and let them know before it's too late.

  • djcgriffin Nov 19, 2009

    I cant help but think this is part of the insurance companies trying to cut costs. I know they said that it had nothing to do with that, but you know if they only require it every 2 years, that would be what's covered. It's just like you're only allowed one annual with most insurance companies. smh.

  • veyor Nov 19, 2009

    This is like saying "Don't get a mammogram if you don't have cancer before 50."