As a veteran of World War II, my grandfather was a GI Bill success story, the first man to go to college from his impoverished neighborhood in Jersey City thanks to government at its finest. A card-carrying member of the state teachers’ union, and a politically active Democrat for most of his life, it came as something of a shock to me when, after a few decades of observing big government debacles, my grandfather became one of Ronald Reagan’s most ardent fans. I still remember his delight over the classic Reaganism, “The nine most terrifying words in the …Read More
In November I traveled to DC to issue a statement to the FDA advisory committee regarding breast density. Several radiologists, breast cancer patients and advocates, representatives from the American College of Radiology, as well as Karen Handel from the Susan G. Komen foundation were on hand to render opinions regarding a new rule being considered by the FDA, which would mandate the inclusion of breast density information in the official mammogram report that goes to the referring doctor, and that the radiology facility providing a mammogram…Read More
Thanks to the tireless efforts of dedicated grassroots patient advocates, NJ State Senators Loretta Weinberg and Nia Gill have sponsored a bill that will be brought before the next legislative session. This bill requires that all mammogram reports contain information on breast density, and requires insurers to cover comprehensive breast ultrasound screening if a mammogram demonstrates dense breast tissue. Studies have shown that adding an ultrasound to the mammogram for women with dense breasts results in a 50% increase in breast cancer detection.…Read More
It is a scenario familiar to all breast imaging practices.
A patient feels a lump in her breast and calls her doctor. The doctor examines her, agrees that a lump is present, and refers the patient to a breast imaging facility for a diagnostic mammogram and breast ultrasound (also known as a sonogram). At her mammogram appointment, a little sticker is placed on the lump felt by the patient, and mammogram images are taken. Something may or may not be seen on the mammogram at the site of the lump. A breast sonogram is performed, and a suspicious mass is seen, clear …Read More
Looking at her today, you’d never guess that my mom friend Lori Kennedy had been through the gauntlet of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment at the age of 29. A mutual friend introduced us several years ago, and after Lori learned that my field is breast imaging, she mentioned that she’d had breast cancer years before. I was intrigued by her story, and thought it would be helpful to share in “The Breast Diaries.”
The Shock of Diagnosis
In April of 1992 Lori was 29 years old, living the single life in Hoboken and working successfully in sales. She had been…Read More
Tara Parker-Pope’s recent article in the New York Times Science Section discounts the role of mammography as an essential tool in the quest to save women from premature death due to breast cancer. She reports on the conclusion drawn by researchers Welch and Frankel from Dartmouth, who published a statistical analysis using epidemiologic data and computer software in this article in Archives of Internal Medicine this month. Their conclusion: “Most women with screen-detected breast cancer have not had their life saved by screening. They are instead…Read More
Breast Cancer Awareness Month ends on Monday. Of course awareness is important, but knowing what specific actions you can take to protect yourself against the disease is empowering. Breast cancer can strike anyone, with or without risk factors. However, there are several things you can do NOW to lessen the likelihood of advanced breast cancer happening to you.
1. Lace up and take a walk! According to the Women’s Health Initiative study, women who walked just 30 minutes per day at least 5 days a week (exercise pace, not a leisurely stroll) decreased their…Read More
Nancy Cappello, PhD and JoAnn Pushkin were interviewed on Good Morning America last week, talking about their experiences as women doing “everything right”: mammograms every year, healthy lifestyle, annual checkups. Yet even though they were good, compliant patients, they both were diagnosed with advanced breast cancers. How did this happen? Well, they were never informed that they have dense breast tissue, which confers an increased risk for breast cancer, AND makes a mammogram so hard to read that up to half of cancers won’t be seen.
Since they were …Read More
For most women, age 40 should be when you start having yearly mammograms in order to minimize your likelihood of developing advanced breast cancer (“Government Mammography Task Force vs. You”). Some doctors send their patients for a baseline mammogram at age 35, and I wouldn’t argue with that.
If you have a strong family history of breast cancer (mother or sister), start having your mammogram 10 years younger than the age that relative was diagnosed, OR at age 40, whichever is younger. For example, if your sister had …Read More
Top 9 Reasons Why the Government Panel Recommendations on Mammography are Bad for Your Health
If the 2009 USPSTF (U.S. Preventive Services Task Force) recommendations are followed, as many as 20% of breast cancer deaths will be in women who could have been saved. The USPSTF knew this when they issued their report.
1. The Task Force’s own data shows that the most lives are saved by starting mammography screening at age 40, but they chose to ignore that data. They made a value judgment as to how much a woman’s life is worth. The science clearly shows that starting annual…Read More