National cancer organization changes stance on screenings

MARQUETTE — Today a national cancer organization changed their stance on cancer screenings for women.

This afternoon the American Cancer Society released their new guidelines for breast cancer screenings for women, which could leave some patients and survivors of breast cancer a little confused.
The new guidelines state that women with an average risk of breast cancer should start scheduling regular mammograms at the age of 45 instead of 40.

American Cancer Society Spokesperson Dr. Lisa Newman says, “So the American Cancer Society does want women to be aware of their breasts, however the Society is acknowledging the fact that the kind of conventional, ‘do your breast exam every month,’ we do not have convincing data that the monthly self-examination decrease breast cancer mortality rates.”

They also recommend ceasing manual breast cancer exams where doctors feel for lumps.

“Women who do notice a new lump in their breast, or bloody nipple discharge, or some change,” Dr. Newman added, “those women do need to seek medical attention very promptly regardless of when their most recent mammogram took place.”

The doctor says that even though the American Cancer Society has come to that conclusion, women should check for lumps and be aware of any changes. The goal of these changes is to cut down the number of false positives for women, and in turn avoid unnecessary treatments.. Not all organizations that offer mammograms or screening services follow these guidelines.

For example, the Marquette County Health Department follows the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. However local nurses say the best piece of advice is to discuss everything with your doctor.

Clinic Manager for the Marquette County Health Department Julie Scott says, “The most important thing we can tell every woman is to talk to their physician, and they’re going to base their recommendation on their family history, their risk factors and if they have any symptoms.”

Dr. Newman says that women with a history of breast cancer or are at a higher risk for any reason should not follow these specific guidelines, because they are for women who are at an average risk only.

For more information on the Marquette County Health Department’s Programs click here.

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