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More on Mammograms and Pink October

Posted 9/19/2013

Posted in

  Thank you to Eva for sending me the link to this new article in Orion magazine. It is right up there with Barbara Ehrenheich's classics, and I strongly recommend that you read it. And prepare to be enraged.

  Here is the first paragraph and a link to read more:

Part One: The Diagnosis

ON THE DAY of my first mammogram, I walked through the sliding glass doors of the gleaming new hospital and fought the urge to turn right back around. I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something wrong about this rite of passage. Nevertheless, I navigated a series of carpet-lined hallways to the Women’s Imaging Center and gave my name to the receptionist behind the glass. With an air of indifference, she led me to a small, windowless room, directed me to change into a johnny, and told me to wait for the mammography tech, Gert, to come fetch me. On the table to my right, beside a lacy pink photo album containing snapshots of flowers, lay Be a Survivor: Your Guide to Breast Cancer Treatment. I was forty-one years old, my nurse practitioner had urged me in for a baseline, and there I sat, complying.


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  • Patricia Hogan said:
    9/19/2013 3:14 PM

    I totally understand that mammography has many fallibilities and can certainly miss cancers or lead to overdiagnosis. And the statistics about the percentage of image misreadings is truly alarming. However, there is one other aspect to this whole issue. I had a "benign" change on my mammogram and received the recommendation to return in six months. I thought that sounded like 6 months of hell and so I contacted my PCP who sent me to a surgeon even while saying "this is not a cancer scare". Ok, but I went to the surgeon who looked at the image and said, "it's nothing". I then said "what would you do if it was your wife's mammogram"? He looked again and told me he was recommending a biopsy even though it's "nothing". And yes, you guessed it-it was cancer. To the surgeon's credit, he apologized many times for his false reassurance. Women need to be vigilant all through the mammography process and trust their own instincts, not the sometimes false reassurances that are given.