Local reaction to new mammogram recommendations - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Local reaction to new mammogram recommendations

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by Danielle Wagner

WATERLOO (KWWL) The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said Monday women who are not high risk for breast cancer can wait until they're 50 to be screened. Even then, only need to be screened every other year.

The task force said the chance of a bad result outweighs the small benefit to younger women. But this reversal in advice is leading to confusion about many long-standing recommendations.

Kathy Boeckmann works at the Breast Care Center in Waterloo. She had breast cancer seven years ago, at age 46. It was detected by a mammogram. She said she's appalled by the latest recommendations suggesting women wait until 50 to get mammograms.

"And I think if I went by these guidelines now that they're coming out with and my physician wouldn't have started till 50, I don't know. I don't think I'd be here at 60," said Kathy Boeckmann.

Breast surgeon in Waterloo, Doctor Douglas Duven, feels strongly that 50 is too late for women to start getting mammograms. He said mammograms can save lives.

"In general, the earliest breast cancers are caught by mammography," said Dr. Duven.

He said catching cancer early means a less invasive operation, less chemotherapy and less radiation, if any at all. According to Duven, about one in seven women will develop breast cancer.

"Everybody doesn't have breast cancer, but what you're trying to do is pick it up early. It's money well spent," he said.

Duven said the latest recommendations suggest it's not cost effective for women to get mammograms in their 40s because it only decreases the death rate in those women by 15 percent.

"The argument is that's not enough percentage to justify the mammograms. Now, if I was one of the 15 percent of women, I would say that's not true," he said.

Kathy Boeckmann is glad she got a mammogram at 46, and hopes women in their 40s continue the practice.

"Mammograms are not 100 percent perfect. They are a screening tool, but for many women they change the course of their life," said Boeckmann.

Dr. Duven recommends a monthly self-exam for all women and a routine mammogram every year for women starting at age 40.

For more information, you can email Kathy Boeckmann.

Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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