Health Team

Edwards' death stresses need for early detection

Posted December 8, 2010

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— Elizabeth Edwards, who died Tuesday after a six-year battle with breast cancer, gave powerful testimony about the need for early detection of the disease.

In what was perhaps her last public appearance, Edwards said she neglected to get annual exams.

"I did not take advantage of the tests we knew we had for breast cancer," she said at Cleary University in Michigan in October. "Like many women, I made sure my children had their annual check-ups, and I did not have mine."

Edwards' experience is not uncommon among women who are the age she was when she was diagnosed in 2004, research shows.

The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that only 79.9 percent of women ages 50 to 59 had up-to-date mammography tests.

Among people who did not finish high school, 72.6 percent received recommended screening. For those with an annual income of less than $15,000, 69.4 percent were screened.

Among those without health insurance, 56.3 percent had up-to-date mammography screening.

The CDC recommends that women ages 40 to 49 talk to their doctor about when and how often they should be screened for breast cancer. Women ages 50 to 74 should have a screening mammogram every two years, the agency says.

Financial assistance is available for women without insurance. The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program has federal funding for low-income, uninsured and underserved women to have access to timely breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services.


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  • buco Dec 15, 2010

    ...and she definitely wasn't a Jim Valvano or Susan Komen.

    I can't believe you would put a crooked BB coach in the same sentence as Susan Komen

  • anne53ozzy Dec 14, 2010

    My primary care doc has told me that most preventable cancers are found by women who do routine breast exams. Come on girls....put your hands on your tatas and call the doc when you feel something that should not be there. I did. It turned out to be okay but the mammogram missed this small lump.

  • wildcat Dec 13, 2010

    but many woman still don't get it not until its too late. Putting it off is not helping either.

  • TallWillow Dec 10, 2010

    "Get the things starting at age 40. I don't care WHAT the Gubment says..!!!! Early detection works!!" Squirreling

    If there were no risk at all from exposure to x-rays, this would be good advice. But you have to balance the risks. Cumulative exposure to x-rays & other radiation can increase the risk of cancer. For someone that's at high risk of breast cancer, like someone with the BRCA gene, then the benefits probably outweigh the risks.

    Of course that does put the burden on women to do breast self-exams regularly, & goodness knows a lot of us don't do so well at that.

  • gswalker51 Dec 10, 2010

    Amen to YoucanthandletheTRUTH. Well said. Both John and Elizabeth Edwards would chase any ambulance they could to further their own self-serving political and financial agendas. That will be both of their legacies whether you like it or not. Anyone else recall John's proclamation that Christopher Reeve's death could have been prevented if it wasn't for George W. Bush opposing stem cell research? I'm sure Elizabeth was a loving mother and she will be missed by her family, but let's not make her out to be something she wasn't...and she definitely wasn't a Jim Valvano or Susan Komen.

  • YoucanthandletheTRUTH Dec 9, 2010

    Sorry WRAL but your title is simply wrong and misleading. Her death has nothing to do with "stressing the need for early detection". This has been known for years. Stop trying to make up news stories to place your precious Elizabeth at the center of. She had breast cancer and died from it. It happens EVERYDAY!

  • Squirreling Dervish Dec 9, 2010

    Get the things starting at age 40. I don't care WHAT the Gubment says..!!!! Early detection works!!

  • CestLaVie Dec 9, 2010

    What's the matter, GOLO? Didn't like my comments entered earlier today?