Breast cancer survivor and doctor react to new mammogram guidelines

Breast cancer survivor and doctor react to new mammogram guidelines

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - New guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend mammograms for women starting at age 50 and every other year thereafter. The screening advice has been controversial among those in the medical field and also for women who have been diagnosed with the disease.

Tatum Hummel, 36, said she knew immediately when she found a lump that it was breast cancer.

"I was 34 when I was first diagnosed, and at that time I was diagnosed with (breast cancer) Stage 2A," said Hummel, who has since been diagnosed with another form, Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.

If Hummel's physicians at ProMedica Flower Hospital would have adhered to the USPSTF guidelines, her outcome may have been different.

"It's been outrageous, because we know if they were to be followed, this would lead to unnecessary deaths, thousands of them," said Dr. Robin Shermis, Director of ProMedica Breast Care.

Shermis also notes that the new guidelines contradict previous outlines released by other medical groups.

"If the recommendations of the Task Force are upheld, or were to be followed, this would result in thousands of women dying needlessly. Also thousands more having to undergo more harsh treatment and more expensive treatment for more advanced breast cancers that could have been detected on regular mammograms."

Dr. Shermis says the USPSTF's goal is most likely to reduce spending on mammograms and perhaps reduce anxiety in women who receive a false positive result.

While the various breast care guidelines could be confusing for women, ProMedica will continue recommending a yearly mammogram beginning at age 40.

"The evidence in all studies are unequivocal: mammograms save lives. The Task Force is doing this to keep a lower level of spending on breast health at the expense of women's lives. It's unequivocal," said Dr. Shermis.

In Hummel's opinion, early detection is key. While her paternal grandmother had breast cancer, Hummel did not test positive for the BRACA gene.

"You have to remember that 75 percent of all cancers occur in women without a family history. So it's not all risk-based evidence that we're dealing with," said Dr. Shermis.

Currently, Hummel is receiving radiation for the metastatic breast cancer. She will have to undergo some type of treatment for the rest of her life.

"I had a bilateral mastectomy, 16 rounds of chemotherapy, and another surgery," said Hummel, who would also like to see more research for Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer.

She regularly and openly discusses her condition and treatment with her three young children.

"I try to be honest with them, but I also try to be positive and hopeful," she said. "I want to educate as much as I can, because I don't want another young mother to be sitting where I am today. I think it's going to be too late for a lot of women if we look at the age and decide to do mammograms later rather than sooner. There are more and more young women being impacted by this disease."

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