Breasts Are Not Ticking Time BombsNovember 29, 2011 No Comments
Whether you love or hate your breasts there’s always this ominous sense that they’re actually bombs waiting to explode. In October, the abundance of pink signifies our steadfast efforts to raise awareness of breast cancer, seek more effective treatments and find preventative measures, but it also has a tendency to perpetuate paranoia.
But never fear. New guidelines have recently been announced by the Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care. They may not necessarily refute pervasive messages all over the world telling women to get tested regularly and touch their titties (remember that sexy man video?!), but these guidelines do help to minimize all of the doom and gloom which sometimes surrounds breast cancer.
Instead of getting tested annually (as women are in some provinces by the age of 40) experts recommend that women aged 50 to 74 get a mammogram every two to three years. Also, routine clinical breast examinations and breast self-examinations are only recommended to high-risk women (“high-risk” being older women and those who have tested positive for breast cancer genes BRCA1 or BRCA2).
In other words, it’s time to stop panicking.
The revised guidelines offer a more realistic picture of preventative care. Yes, an estimated “5,100 Canadian women (and 55 men) will die of breast cancer this year,” but a vast number of these cases involve women in their 70s and 80s. This isn’t to say that there are exceptions, but scaring women into mammograms (and subjecting them to radiation) may actually cause more harm than good.
Still, we must worry in moderation. And we can’t take for granted that screening has saved many lives. Women should be aware of changes in their bodies and do their best to maintain their health, both physical and mental. These new guidelines hint that a significant part of prevention may lie in our own hands.
Our focus is only slightly shifted. We must still pay attention to the science, including prevention and treatments, but we must also ease fear and anxiety. Peace of mind goes a long way.
Whatever the guidelines say, saving women remains a top priority.
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