Tuesday, May 23, 2006
I'm in my early 20s and I can name three girls off the top of my head that have had breast lumps removed. All, have thankfully been benign, but lumps are simply not dealt with lightly anymore, even in 20 year old women.
You'd think with all the pink ribbon bonanza and breast cancer awareness, research etc that we could rest easy, right? No need to worry about the cause. I mean, you can find pink ribbon jewelry, candles, pins, picture frames etc. And all those high profile commercials on TV advocating mammograms and early detection. Breast cancer is not a back-burner issue by any means.
We are told that one in 8 American women will be stricken with invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. So consequently, we take any lump seriously, we donate to the cause and wear our pink ribbons proudly.
I thought we were doing all we could, until I read June's issue of "Marie Claire" magazine.
An investigative piece revealed the puzzling fact that it's easier to schedule yourself for breast augmentation surgery than schedule your mammogram!
The reporter attempts to schedule an appointment with a plastic surgeon in New York City. She calls two separate offices and finds that she can see a doctor as soon as tomorrow and can have a new set of breasts anywhere from 4 weeks to 3 months from now.
However, when she places a call to "a leading New York City Hospital" she's told she has to wait SIX MONTHS for a mammogram. A call is placed to another hospital, where she leaves her information on an answering machine but never receives a call back. A third facility says the wait will be two months. When the reporter tells them, "But I found a lump," the woman says there's nothing she can do; it will still be a two month wait.
According to this article "early detection facilities for breast cancer have been closing rather than opening!"
The American College of Radiology says that facilities that perform mammograms have dropped 9% from 2000 to 2004.
This is likely due to the money factor because mammograms lose money not MAKE money for a hospital.
From Marie Claire:
"In 2005, 63% of radiology facilities lost money on the procedure while just 29% broke even on it. Insurance companies reimbursement rates do not fully cover the cost of performing the procedure- partly because of the high insurance premiums radiologists themselves have to pay for performing mammograms. According to the Physician Insurers Association of America, misdiagnosed cases of breast cancer are the leading cause of diagnostic malpractice claims (Mammograms miss 10 to 15% of cancers)."
How to look out for yourself:
When you're getting your current mammogram, don't leave the doctor's office without scheduling your next one!
The cold hard truth is that in our society, cosmetic surgery to enhance our breasts is more readily avaliable than a relatively simple procedure to prevent cancer and save a life.
Pick up this issue of Marie Claire (it features Julia Stiles on the cover). Other great investigative pieces show that:
-- It can take only 30 minutes to get a gun and yet 4 weeks to issue a restraining order!
-- You can get heroin in 35 minutes while is takes 72 hours to fill Emergency contraception!