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Modern Medicine: Breast Cancer Research Sheds Light on Earlier Screening

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Panama City, Fla. -

New cancer research shows that most breast cancer deaths occur in younger women who've not had screening mammograms.

In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended screening mammograms at the age of 50, every two years.  However, The American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms beginning at age 40.  This has continued to be a debate among industry experts.

This latest Harvard Medical School study, published in the journal Cancer, appears to show that earlier mammograms can be beneficial. 

Sherry Bruce was diagnosed with breast cancer in May.  She says her husband insisted that she take the time to have further screening, and that's when her breast cancer was found.

Then, the unthinkable happened.  Bruce's husband died the day after her cancer surgery.  She says even though he's gone, he gave her a gift because the screening caught the cancer before it was too late.

Radiation Oncologist Dr. Jeff Trupp from Bay Regional Cancer Center says the latest study shows the importance of mammograms beginning at age 40.

"By not doing screening mammograms, you find cancers at a more advanced stage, which requires more treatment and a higher chance of dying," Dr. Trupp explains.

Dr. Trupp goes on to say, "The point of this work is that if greater than 50 percent of people who die of breast cancer are under 50, you shouldn't wait.  You should start at age 40 and do them yearly."

Bruce started her mammograms at age 45, and said her latest screening came at a critical time.

"They said basically it was just in the nick of time because once it invades into your lymph nodes, it can really spread throughout your body," she said.

According to Dr. Trupp, "That's what it comes down to.  Would you as a patient rather have a mammogram and decrease your risk of dying of breast cancer or don't have the mammogram because you don't want the possibility of undergoing a negative biopsy?"

Dr. Trupp says it's important to talk to your doctor about the best screening protocol for you. He also recommends that all women, even those in their 20s and 30s, do monthly self breast exams.

Upcoming Breast Cancer Fundraisers and Events

  • American Cancer Society Fundraiser for the Moosettes Club on September 14, Noon to 10 p.m. at Sweet Frogs in Panama City.  A portion of the sales will go to the team.
  • Think Pink Tea and Tour at Bay Regional Cancer Center on October 17, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Call 784-0804 or 747-6972 for more information.