BY BRANDON HOMMEL
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian women (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers) and is the second leading cause of death from cancer. It is estimated that 23,800 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and 5,000 of them will die from it.
With these statistics, it would seem that breast cancer screening would be a no-brainer.
However, in Canada, the medical community doesn’t recommend women get a mammogram until they are 50 years of age, unless they are at high risk.
This is despite the fact that mammograms have been credited with detecting breast cancer earlier in women, thus saving lives.
In the United States, women are encouraged to go for breast cancer screening beginning at the age of 40.
Amy Robach, an ABC news correspondent, discovered just how important it is, after reluctantly undergoing an on-air mammogram to raise awareness about breast cancer.
The 40-year-old journalist is at the age when it is recommended that women in the U.S. regularly check for breast cancer, but she didn’t because she is married with two kids, has a full-time job and couldn’t find the time.
By airing a segment on mammograms the show’s producers hoped they could save one life. Little did they know it would be the life of one of their own.
Robach’s on-air mammogram showed she had cancer, after which she had a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. The screening saved her life and left her breast cancer free.
“I can only hope my story will do the same and inspire every woman who hears it to get a mammogram, to take a self-exam,” Robach said. “No excuses. It is the difference between life and death.”
If the new excuse for avoiding a mammogram is that women are too busy, it’s a poor one. And equally sad is that in Canada, women aren’t encouraged to undergo screening until they are 50.
It’s understandable that some women don’t want to go because they fear the results won’t be favourable, but they must remember, the earlier it is caught, the better.
And breast cancer screening should start at the age of 40 in Canada, which would surely save hundreds of lives.