After the recent furore over the breast cancer guidelines, I’ve been ignoring the hype and hysteria in the news and quietly waiting for some thoughtful commentary from some breast cancer experts I respect.
This morning I got my wish with an email alert from the New England Journal of Medicine. In it, two well respected breast cancer physicians from rhe Dana Farber Cancer Insitute have summarised their views in an editorial. You can read the whole commentary for free here:
One point in particular struck me. The guidelines apply to those who are low risk, implying those women who are high risk (family history of breast or ovarian cancer, BRCA1 or BRCA2 positive etc), should still continue as before.
Their sensible and well thought out article is worth reading carefully and sharing with others.
A lot of people gave asked me what I’m going to do or would advise as one of those forty something women.
Well, I have a baseline and have been adjudged to be high risk so providing my insurance carrier is agreeable, I’ll be continuing with annual mammograms at NY Weill Cornell imaging center. This last point is important. My own experience of mammograms in suburbia was less than satisfactory and I would absolutely advocate going to get any tests at a cancer center where they have the latest technology and the best teschnicians, radiographers and pathologists. It does make a difference, possibly even between an accurate result and a false positive or negative.
Once you reach 40, politely insist on a baseline at your annual physical and get tested for BRCA1 and 2, after all that distinct aunt wasn’t aware in time and you don’t want to make the same mistake. These mutations drive aggressive breast and ovarian cancers. The most important thing is to get a baseline done, that gives you a comparion from which any changes can be detected early.
Check out the article and let me know what you think in the comments below.