What's age got to do with it?

What's age got to do with it?

There are 4 comments on the Ithaca Journal story from Sep 9, 2008, titled What's age got to do with it?. In it, Ithaca Journal reports that:

The number of candles on your birthday cake can help predict your risk of breast cancer and the severity of the disease, research shows.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Ithaca Journal.

Gail Perry

Spring Hill, FL

#1 Sep 9, 2008
What a bunch of control freaks. Now they want to decide WHICH WOMEN should do breast self-exams?


It's simple to me, women. I found my lump. I'd be dying right now if I hadn't.

Do your breast self-exams. If you find a lump. YOU decide whether it should be taken seriously. If the doctor says it's nothing and you want it checked out, you go to another doctor, and then another until you find one that will take you seriously.

Doing THAT saved my 39 year old friend's life.

Do NOT let researchers and statisticians decided that "based on the numbers" you should or should not be concerned. If it is cancer, it's 100% for you, and that's the only number that matters.

And, there are NO unnecessary biopsies. There only those that turn out to be benign and those that find cancer. In my young friend's case, the surgeon, instead of brushing her off, biopsied it in three different places.

Two were clear. One was malignant.

She saved her life by finding a doctor willing to save her life.

“Lively and cat crazy!”

Since: Oct 08

New York City

#2 Oct 8, 2008
I absolutely couldn't agree with you more! As a very recent breast cancer survivor of 52, I was lucky enough to have had my cancer diagnosed through a mammogram. I had microcalcifications in my right breast, which are typical for women my age (15% of the time they are cancerous, while 85% they are not), and was technically diagnosed with Stage 0 Ductal Carcinoma in Situ. I went through a comparitively minor lumpectomy and 4 weeks of radiation treatment, but I got through it. Thank God for that mammo and for my insistence in being proactive in my health. When I initially dealt with an oncologist whose office looked like it came from the dark ages, I moved on until I found the people I ultimately would work with at Sloan Kettering. If I wasn't happy with their services or needed extra care, I spoke up. Too often women become mute in these situations and think they don't have a voice and leave the decisions up to the experts, but they do. I saved my life this way, as well, as did my husband who is more vocal than I am.

Articles like the one you shared will encourage younger women under 65 and below 50 to avoid getting their mammograms and doing their self exams because they will believe it simply isn't necessary. It offers a perfect excuse for women to avoid getting this uncomfortable exam, as many do anyway, when in fact they are putting their lives in danger. I can't tell you just how many young women (25 -40) I saw at the radiation oncologist's office who were going through both chemo and radiation treatment, so they are best served to ignore this kind of article.

Trust that I will do my part to encourage early and regular screening. After my diagnosis in March, I made a committment to myself that I personally would educate the students where I am employed (college) to understand the gravity of a cancer diagnosis, the importance of self exams, baseline mammograms at 40, or younger when cancer is in the family. I also plan to encourage them to obtain student level health insurance and not put things off indefinitely, as I did. Family crises over a lengthy period last year curtailed my ability to get that mammo for 19 months. And look what happened!

Be well.
Gail Perry

Spring Hill, FL

#3 Oct 9, 2008
My grandmother died of breast cancer at 86. The other side of this coin is that some research has suggested that women over a certain age shouldn't be evaluated either "because they're so old they'll probably die of something else anyway."

I wonder how many actual women want to gamble that they will die in their sleep of something else before breast cancer takes them?

Not many.

They said things like "frail women in nursing homes" being "subjected" to mammograms. Fine. Do ultrasounds on them. Bring the machines to their beds.

Researchers keep trying to remove our choices on this. Not long ago some research "proved" that women shouldn't be doing self-breast exams. Well, a self-breast exam saved my life at age 60, but my mother saved her life by finding her lump -- when she was 38. I have a young friend who found her lump at age 39.

We aren't the results of groups of numbers (statistics). We're individuals -- groups of one. You can't do research on groups of 1. It's time for number-crunchers to stop telling us what to do.

Mind you, I know a lot about statistics. It would seem that in some ways I know more than these researchers, ecause I recognize the limits as well as the possibilities.
#4 Sep 24, 2013
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