To Mammography or Not

The following guest post comes to us via Cynthia.

questionOctober is probably one of the best examples of a public awareness campaign catching on and sticking. Maybe you already knew, thanks to the ubiquitous pink ribbons you see all around you this month, but October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time to encourage people to receive screening for the most common cancer among American women. The movement to promote breast cancer awareness has become pervasive. But for me, breast cancer is more than just a campaign — it is a disease that has become a part of my family history. And it has become personal, with numerous friends diagnosed and getting treatment, some of them before they reached the age of 35.

Contradictions regarding mammography exist within the medical community. Where did all of this put me?

When I turned 30, I talked to my doctor about my family history and the concerns I had about breast cancer. Although most health experts don’t recommend a mammography until a woman is in her 40s or 50s, she provided me with a referral to get a mammogram so that we had a baseline image for future comparison. I was anxious while I sat in the waiting room at the imaging center, but I also felt like I was being responsible and proactive when it came to my health. The mammogram was normal and it was put into my file. It wouldn’t be looked at again until I was 40, when my ob/gyn recommended that I get my next mammogram.

This October isn’t just Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s also the month I turned 40. I am preparing for my next mammogram, but I have questions for my doctor before I make the appointment. Is it really necessary? Can I wait to get my next mammogram? I have a lot of questions, because there was conflicting information handed down earlier this year from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • saguaroArizona Republicans do a stellar job of making our beloved state seem like a haven for bigots. The current target? Members of the LGBT community. (AZ Central)
  • Here’s another shining example of this … (Raw Story)
  • And again! Can’t even give birth to your own baby the way you want to! Dammit, Arizona! (Care2)
  • If you are married to a person with genitalia that is the opposite of yours, I have some good news for you — Mike Huckabee approves of your intercourse. Congratulations. (Slate)
  • A mother who helped her 16-year-old daughter terminate an unwanted pregnancy could become a convicted felon for doing so … and remember, this is a world where others can kill unarmed born children and get off scot-free. (Care2)
  • After having had to abort her very wanted child at the end of the second trimester, Phoebe Day Danziger tells her sad story. (Slate)
  • We’re familiar with Plan B, but is there a Plan C on the horizon? (RH Reality Check)
  • The 10 suckiest anti-abortion bills of 2014 — and we’re not even in the third month of the damn year. (Think Progress)
  • Lack of Knowledge on Long-Term Contraception Is A Real Danger for Women (HuffPo)
  • The inventor of the HPV vaccine is working on a similar vaccine for herpes. Yay science! (Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Like everything else in medicine, the value of mammograms is being debated. Wouldn’t it be nice if doctors could be on the same page? (NY Times)

Over 90 Percent of What Planned Parenthood Does, Part 20: Breast Exams

pink nursesWelcome to the latest installment of “Over 90 Percent of What Planned Parenthood Does,” a series on Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona’s blog that highlights Planned Parenthood’s diverse array of services — the ones Jon Kyl never knew about.

The following guest post comes to us via Rebecca Brukman, one of Planned Parenthood Arizona’s communications interns.

The sweet smell of toasted pumpkin seeds fills the air. Trees free themselves from the heat of summer as they shed their green leafy attire and flaunt their vibrant, golden red, orange, and yellow hues. You can feel the joy and excitement in department stores as the shelves are filled to the brim with Halloween candy and costumes galore. Autumn is upon us — which means it’s time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

The more you know, the more we can help!

Since 1985, the month of October has been recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. With their pink ribbons in hand, survivors, supporters, and strangers alike will join in unison throughout the month to participate in a variety of fundraising-based events to raise awareness about the disease.

As the largest reproductive health care provider in the state, Planned Parenthood Arizona (PPAZ) is dedicated to providing affordable, accessible, and reliable health care to everyone. PPAZ is a crucial partner and resource in the fight against breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Screening Exams Save Lives

A breast exam is simply a way to check for abnormalities in the breast tissue; these usually manifest themselves in the form of lumps and other indicators of concern. In this past year alone, Planned Parenthood health centers nationwide were responsible for facilitating approximately 750,000 clinical breast exams. Continue reading

Mobile Mammography Clinic: August 18 in Phoenix

According to Planned Parenthood’s information on screening, breast cancer is the second “most common type of cancer in American women. About 225,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year in the U.S. and 40,000 women will die from it.”

On August 18, free mammograms will be available in Phoenix.

Among the best screening tools for breast cancer is the mammogram, or X-ray of the breast. During a mammogram, the breast tissue is compressed between two plates and X-rayed. Those images are later checked for abnormalities. While this may not sound like fun, the entire procedure for a mammogram takes only about 20 minutes — and the actual compression, only a few seconds. Moreover, regular screening is a person’s best chance for early diagnosis.

Both the American Cancer Society and Planned Parenthood recommend annual mammograms starting at age 40. However, not everyone receives the recommended screenings, for various reasons. Some people may not know they fit the criteria for screening or may be confused by different organizations’ conflicting recommendations. (For instance, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that annual screenings begin at age 50 rather than 40.) Others may find the procedure physically or emotionally uncomfortable. Still others, particularly in times of economic distress, may lack access to providers or the means to pay for such screenings. Continue reading