Controversial New Breast Cancer Guidelines

A government medical panel has proposed new standards on how to screen for breast cancer, and it has a lot of people talking.  The new guidelines are turning heads and creating a lot of controversy. One women who has battled breast cancer for years says it’s like stepping back in time.

Kristi Perrotto says a self breast exam could possibly have saved her life or at least prolonged it. In 2003, at the age of 35, Kristi helped diagnose stage 3 breast cancer in herself. And found another lump in 2008.  Now at stage 4, the mother of 3 is still fighting today.

“Why wouldn’t you check? why wouldn’t you know your body? The difference is going to being in stage 1 or 3 or 4,” Perrotto said.

Kristi says it concerning that a government sponsored medical panel claims there’s no benefit to performing self breast exams, something that has been stressed in doctors offices for years. And it’s been years that mammogram’s have been recommended every year for women beginning in their 40’s.

But this panel now says women should not get mammogram’s until they turn 50. And they only need them once every two years. Director of Radiology at Saint Elizabeth’s, Mike Hopkins says this advice puts us back 40 years.

“I’m concerned. For the last 40 years we’ve taught women to try and detect breast cancer early by getting mammogram’s and mammogram’s are the best way to do that,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins says 15 percent of those women who get mammogram’s in their 40’s are diagnosed with breast cancer. Hopkins says try to tell those 15 percent that they have to wait to get an exam until they’re 50, women like Kristi Perrotto.

“Healthcare is about let’s find it early. Lets help people live instead of lets just wait until they’re about ready to die,” Perrotto said.

Hopkins says he’s also worried that the report will lead to standards in what insurance companies will pay for and if they stop paying for the exams, women will most likely stop getting them as often or even altogether.