Thursday, October 22, 2020
Home Opinion Breaking news: Women younger than 50 no longer get breast cancer

Breaking news: Women younger than 50 no longer get breast cancer

Do you have a woman in your life under the age of 50 or over 74 who you couldn’t stand to lose? A mom, a sister, aunt, friend, lover?

Their lives are in danger.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has drastically changed their recommendations of breast cancer prevention for women. Now, USPSTF suggests women don’t receive regular mammograms until they turn 50, rather than the previous recommendation of 40. Also, they suggest that women only get checked out every two years, rather than the previous guideline of annual check-ups.

This is good news, since we have found a cure for breast cancer. No, no cure? Oh, then obviously women have stopped getting breast cancer. Wrong, again.

My mother was 38 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer the first time. She is currently fighting breast cancer again, at the age of 49. We have no known history of breast cancer in our family. She does not have either of the BRCA genetic mutations that define you and your family members as high-risk.

In 2010, the National Women’s Law Center found that “Health plans are required to cover, without copayments, the preventive services recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), including annual mammograms for women age 40 and over.”

Currently, the Affordable Care Act and Medicare still cover mammograms for women 40 and older for preventive mammograms. However, USPSTF’s new recommendation could set a dangerous precedent for insurance companies to change their policies. Preventive care is normally covered entirely, but copays could be the least of the requirements for women seeking mammograms under 50 or above 74.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) is a staunch supporter of annual mammograms for women aged 40 and older. According to the ACS official website at cancer.org, “Current evidence supporting mammograms is even stronger than in the past. In particular, recent evidence has confirmed that mammograms offer substantial benefit for women in their 40s. Women can feel confident about the benefits associated with regular mammograms for finding cancer early.”

If the evidence that women should seek annual preventive screenings starting at age 40 is “even stronger”, why would the USPSTF recommend less frequent screenings for women, starting at an even later age?

My guess is that someone gets a cut of the money that can be saved from no longer covering the total cost of preventive care for women starting at 40, and after they turn 75. My guess is that the USPSTF would hope no one noticed the extreme change in recommendations so that insurance companies would have a “scientific” justification for their reduction in future care. Could I be paranoid? Possibly. However, if the USPSTF is allowed their speculation, then I’m allowed mine.

But what do I know? I’m just a girl whose mother was diagnosed with breast cancer (twice) before the “recommended” age of 50 years old.

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