I recently received the following email from my sister who is also a breast cancer survivor:
“I am still running into a lot of women in their seventies who don’t realize that the risk of breast cancer grows in their senior years. You might want to bring that message home to them from time to time.”
If you have a family member or friend who is of the opinion that you should stop getting mammograms at a “certain age”, please do her a favor and give her the information with the updated guidelines.Barbara Jacoby
And in her message she also included the link to a Healthline.com article titled “Mammograms for Women Over Age 75” that spoke to the current guidelines that suggest that mammograms for those who are over 75 years old should not be based upon age but rather on the woman’s health.
I want to thank my sister for her thought-provoking reminder and for the inclusion of the backup information that she provided. I couldn’t help but starting to think of more than a few women that I personally know who were diagnosed with breast cancer after 75 and who have been successfully treated. One is a very dear friend who was diagnosed and treated at the age of 84 and who recently celebrated her 95th birthday, with no evidence of disease after 11 years. I am so grateful that her doctor continued to have her undergo yearly mammograms despite the fact that she was in her 80’s while other doctors are recommending otherwise.
With all of the advances that we have experienced in these more modern times not only in the world of medicine but in the lifestyle advances that have made our lives so much easier, more people are able to live longer than our ancestors. How many times have you heard that 60 is the new 40 and 70 is the new 50? How many people do we all personally know who are living longer because of healthier diets, regular exercising and most importantly, better healthcare that allows for better diagnosis and treatment for all types of diseases, including cancer? So why shouldn’t we continue to get the regular annual screenings and physical exams because of a number that has nothing to do with the actual health of the individual?
I would hope that our medical professionals would continue to work with their patients to be sure that they are receiving the best treatment possible on all levels. But, as we know, not all doctors are alike just as all patients are not alike. Therefore, it becomes our own personal responsibility to advocate for our own health needs, treatments and testing. But, as we know, not every person wishes to be responsible for their own behavior and choices and will often make others, including their doctors, responsible for their own outcomes.
Of course, we can’t force anyone to be do anything and that includes getting annual mammograms. However, if you have a family member or friend who is of the opinion that you should stop getting mammograms at a “certain age”, please do her a favor and give her the information with the updated guidelines. Hopefully, her doctor will be supportive of her request if she asks for an annual mammogram. And should her doctor deny her this screening, hopefully you will be able to assist her in seeking another professional who will help. After all, if she refuses, you will know that you have done everything that you can to help her. But, it just may be that you were able to save her life if she is ultimately diagnosed with breast cancer and that sure would be more than worth your sharing and advocating for her.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.