Breast Cancer Screening Age

Of all cancers in the world, I’m most anxious of breast cancers and malignant melanomas.  Breast cancers has been affecting even those with no positive family history and no apparent risk factors.  Malignant melanomas scare me too. I’m sure I’m not able to monitor all the moles in my body to see if there are sudden growth or change in color or irregularities that signals malignancy.  Early breast CA has better prognosis than early detection of malignant melanoma.  Once a mole becomes a malignancy, it easily forms metastases to other parts of the body, most frequently the brain.  It happens so fast; there’s almost no time to catch it.  On the other hand, there has been ongoing debates as to when does a woman (or man) need to subject herself to mammography in order to detect precancerous tumors of the breast. 

No one worries about cancer unless a family member or oneself becomes affected.  For breast cancers, we don’t need to wait for someone in the family to have it before we panic over our own health.  Previously, menopausal women who are in their fifties are advised to have annual mammography.  The lack of estrogen and the presence of a breast mass will require further work-ups for breast cancer detection.  Recent studies show that women has to have their screening mammography tests as early as forty years old. There is no scientific basis that we should wait for our menopause or the age of fifty to worry about breast cancers.  These days, women in their thirties have been affected by breast malignancy.  Hence, early detection has been mandated for women who have positive family history. 

Problem arises now that breast cancers are so rampant that known risk factors like a positive family history . intake of hormone replacement therapy or cigarette smoking may be absent to develop the cancer.  The recent studies has proved that early screening tests at the age of forty and done yearly until the age of forty-nine will reduce early mortality age and mortality rate.  Early detection means early administration of treatment.  The 29% reduction in mortality rate for those who had their screening at the age of 40 is significantly different from the 15% reduction in mortality rate for those who underwent mammography at the age of 50.

The age 50 has been upheld by government standards and probably by the insurance companies.  It is just my theory that they are saving up on health funds.  They are using the screening age of fifty to make the tests more cost-effective since by that age, there are more women detected having breast mass – cancerous or pre-cancerous.  But the medical field has persisted that an earlier age needs to be the standard in order to decrease mortality rate but not health expenses.  I don’t know how much of this is true, though.  This part is just my theory. 

The best thing is that available tests are within reach.  And women should take advantage of it.  It’s better to take good care of your body while you still can.  Earlier detection means your body can still cope with the disease since it’s not showing any signs or symptoms.  If your body can still cope, there are better chances to fight off the disease. 

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One Response to “Breast Cancer Screening Age”

  1. It is really important to be aware of how to monitor yourself like even a simple self-breast examination. I agree that early awareness gives one a higher chance of survival and I hope that this info can be disseminated so that all will be aware.

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