Mammograms…..Friend or Foe

Getting a yearly mammogram is something I have struggled with for a long time. I’ve been getting them yearly since I was 39. The last three years I’ve spread it out to once every year and a half. Neither my mother nor grandmother (both of them) ever had breast cancer, however, I believe my aunt died of it so I was advised by my gyno at the time to start. We all know someone with or who has had breast cancer and hearing that c-word is certainly scary. On the one hand I know women who say that the mammogram found the cancer early and they are living healthy lives. There is also a significant amount of studies that found in many cases it finds false positives, and puts women through an enormous amount of stress and worry, not to mention unnecessary, biopsies. Many women are diagnosed with ductal carcinoma, and in some situations doctors say it will never progress to cancer…..old age will get them first. So what do you do? This is such a touchy subject and consensus differs depending upon how you feel about seeking aggressive treatment, or not, whether or not you have had cancer, or a scare, or a family history of it, etc. Regardless, it is something all women have to think about and consider.

I watched an interview with a Dr. Russell Blaylock this week. It is not the first time I have heard a doctor come out against woman having yearly mammograms and getting radiated. He suggested thermography’s, sonograms or even the more costly MRI. Dr. Chris Northrup whom I greatly admire and respect, also agrees that women would be better off getting thermography’s. Breast tissue is radiosensitive tissue and that radiation would more than likely convert a non-progressive cancer into a highly invasive cancer in a number of instances and studies back this info up. Radiation accumulates in the tissues over time and can damage breast tissue, especially in woman that have a DNA pre-disposition.

Having a dialogue with your gyno and being aware of the research and statistics is something I recommend to all women. Clearly we each have to make our own personal decision on this, but having all the info and a professional opinion from your doctor who is familiar with your health history are very important. Keep in mind that eating a healthy anti-inflammatory diet, exercising regularly, and practicing stress reduction is the best prevention against cancer or any other illness. Our psychological and physical well-being go hand in hand so listen to your body. It gives you signals and messages. As women our intuition tells us when someone is in distress or something is amiss. Mothers instinctively know when their children are hurting, but they ignore their own needs. If there is anything I want to emphasize it’s to pay attention to your inner guidance, or voice, or gut. It will keep you healthy, happy and better able to make needed changes in our life.

I would love to know how you feel about this either here on my blog or via my Holistic Root facebook page.

Peace and healthy breasts to all my fellow sisters!
Maria

Comments

  1. I wanted to post a great response that I received. Teh more informationi we share…the better:

    Hi Maria.
    This is a really interesting subject and one of great discussion. I’m based in the UK where we are offered routine mammograms every 3 years once over the age of 50 by the NHS. There are some experts who are of the thinking that mammograms are totally necessary and should be done routinely and others who feel as you’ve mentioned in your post.

    In the last few months I’ve had 2 women close to me deal with these sorts of things. Neither of them had any family history of breast cancer, neither of them has ever smoked, one has never had any alcohol and the other drinks minimal amounts. One has had 3 children and other 4, both breast fed all children. So according to these stats the ‘experts’ say that they are low risk for breast cancer. However, for both these ladies this was not the case.

    The one with 3 children was 39 when she discovered the lump herself. 6 months later she’s had her 40th birthday, done rounds and rounds of chemo and is now finishing her radiotherapy. If you ask her she believes that routine mammograms for all women may have helped find her cancer sooner and so have reduced her treatments which she has dealt with levels of stress and anxiety she’s never experienced before. She would happily have dealt with false positives and biopsies if it had meant the end result being that it was a mistake and she doesn’t have cancer.
    The second lady is in her 60s and always goes for her routine mammograms. The one 5 months ago showed crystals which following several biopsies came to DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ). The histology report following the wide local excision showed that there were already several invasive cancer cells present and that these were non-hormonally responsive and that the area affected was far more extensive than first thought. She has just had a mastectomy following the advice of several experts. DCIS is a lot more complex and there are several issues to take into account with that. Yes, some women may never develop it, but that could be because they have low DCIS which is not wide spread. For others like the lady I know, it’s high level DCIS, wide spread and invasive cells were present – therefore higher chances of it actually developing into a tumor and in this instance, if it had developed then it would have been non-hormonally response so reducing treatment options. So again, if you ask this lady about routine mammograms she would recommend it to everyone. DCIS is not noticable via palpation so scanning is the best way.
    Her specialist has said that MRI and ultrasound have their limitations and don’t also show everything, but then neither does a mammogram so often women have to have all 3.

    Thermographs are definetly the good option, but are not readily available here in the UK. Some private hospitals offer it, but it’s very very expensive. Hopefully over the years, this will become a more readily available option and offer women a greater comfort and offer pre-screening to all.

    The charity Breakthrough Breast cancer published this statement following a debate about this in January: http://www.breakthrough.org.uk/media_centre/news_views/screening_debate.html

    Cancer screening is highly debated subject, and some experts do fear that due to the high stress and anxiety caused by false positives or further investigations it shouldn’t continue. However, for those women whose lives have been saved due to screening, they would all say that it’s worth all the extra stress. I think that this will be debated for years to come.

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