Patients, doctors concerned about new cancer screening recommendations

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - New government guidelines for mammogram's are a hot topic these days.  On Monday, a task force said women should not get mammograms until they turn 50 and then only get the screening every two years.

For years, doctors have stressed that "early detection is key," and are concerned that this recommendation takes the "early" out of the equation.

Second grade teacher, Debbie Webb, said the new recommendations surprise her.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer at 42-years-old.  She had no warning signs, and didn't have a family history.  Getting a mammogram saved her life.

"If I had have waited until fifty to have my first mammogram, it would have been too late. It would have progressed too far," said Webb.

Radiologist, Dr. Adam Cabell, said they've been very busy doing mammogram's over the past couple of days and fielding questions from patients.

"I think it's going to be more confusing than anything.  It really kind of came out of left field," said Cabell.  He also added that new recommendations go against what they already know.

"Mostly, I think it's just confusing.  Why is this coming out?  Why are they saying this?  What's the information they have that's different from what we based our current recommendations on?" said Cabell.

Kim Woodhouse is another cancer survivor who was diagnosed when she was only in her thirties.   She worries how this will affect what women will do.

"We strive so much to inform women how important mammogram's are," said Woodhouse.

"My biggest concern is that patients will be confused, and will actually end up forgoing breast care as opposed to getting the care they need," said Cabell.

"I have friends that aren't here anymore because they weren't diagnosed early enough, and to me, it's a step backwards," said Webb.

Dr. Cabell said there is documentation showing how vital these screenings are.

"Mammogram screening recommendations really got started around the early 90's, and since then, we've had almost two decades of data from that starting point," said Cabell.

And over the past 20 years, the survival rate for cancer patients has gone up by 30 percent.

"Breast cancer is beatable, but you have to start out early enough to beat it," said Webb.

For survivors, the new recommendations are ridiculous.  They say there are thousands more lives out there like theirs--lives worth saving.

©2009 KAIT

 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.