This is not a decision I’ve made lightly. My mom had a mastectomy almost 28 years ago and I am considered high risk for breast cancer. In fact, I had my first mammogram before I was age 40. I’ve had about 4 or 5 mammograms total and the last two resulted in false positives. I can’t tell you the duress that caused me. And then to be told after re-testing that I have very dense breast tissue which caused shadows on the x-ray film. I’m not subjecting myself to that again!
Here are some things I’ve learned after reading extensively on the topic of mammography:
- That the American Cancer Society is “more interested in accumulating wealth than saving lives." This is according to the articles, Is the American Cancer Society more interested in cancer profit than cancer prevention? and The Cure Con: how you're being deceived by charities that claim to be racing for the cure for cancer and other chronic diseases.
- That there is no safe dose of radiation. Breast cancer is more easily caused by radiation than are other kinds of cancers. A mammogram delivers about 1,000 times more radiation than a chest x-ray, which may increase the risk of cardiovascular damage.
- By the time a mammogram can detect breast cancer, it has been present in your body for 8-10 years. If a tumor is large enough to be detected by a mammogram, it's already in an advanced stage, so very few cancers are caught in the earliest and most treatable stages.
- The compression required for mammograms can actually break down cancer tissue and rupture small blood vessels that support the cancer, causing it to spread. How is it that medical students are taught to examine breasts gently to keep any possible cancer from spreading, yet radiologists are allowed to manhandle them for a mammogram?
- Breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women between the ages of 40 and 55. These statistics have not changed since the introduction of the mammogram over 30 years ago. Studies have shown that women who have mammograms suffer about the same rates of death due to breast cancer as women who do not have mammograms.
- Mammography has nothing to do with prevention -- it detects cancers that have already occurred (if you are lucky as there is a common occurrence of false negatives).
- Cancer is not a disease. Cancer is just a name given to a pattern of symptoms appearing as a natural result of certain metabolic functions caused by lifestyle decisions. Cancer can't be cured with chemicals. It's no germ.
- That there are safe alternatives to the mammogram, such as digital mammography, digital infrared thermography, and the MRI.
- One of the most trusted sites I have come across for unbiased information is Breast Cancer Action.