Sermon – Lecture – Whatever: Get the Mammogram Done

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Say a person is driving a car and the service engine light comes on. Most likely the person will take it to a garage just to have it checked to make sure it’s nothing major.

The other alternative is to ignore the warning, continue to drive the car and possibly break down on a freeway. Then, one has real issues.

Staying in the car and trying to call assistance is dangerous because one could be hit. Going outside of the car and waiting for assistance is equally treacherous.

When the car is towed and arrives at a garage, then a person still has to find a way home – and what started as maybe an easy fix, might now be a major repair.

This editor thought of that while chatting with a doctor during a mammogram last week. It turns out has been four years since I had the last one done. The doctor asked if that was because of Covid?

“No,” this editor responded, “Time sort of got away from me, but when the office sent a reminder, I made the appointment.”

I didn’t tell the doctor I was also nudged because in the past year, two people I know were diagnosed with breast cancer. One person was detected much sooner, and the tumor taken care of before it spread into the lymph nodes and other parts of the body.

The second person had a much more difficult road to recovery and required surgery, chemo and radiation.

I asked Dr. Joseph Lebovic, of LSG Imaging, if a lot of women had put off mammograms during Covid. He said his patients had generally made the appointments partially because of the office location (2730 Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica), which was on the first floor and masking and social distancing was observed.

He was asked how often women should get mammograms and he said the radiology community suggest the procedure be done annually.

“How about if a woman is over 80?” I asked. He responded that if a woman was in good health, she should continue to get mammograms, because tumors don’t respect age, and “If we can catch it early, its much easier to treat,” Lebovic said.

He also mentioned that the American College of Radiology recommends mammograms every year and the decision about when to stop should be based on a woman’s health rather than age.

The American Cancer Society recommends a mammogram every year for women 45 to 54 and for women, who are over 55, should go every two years – or have the opportunity to do it annually. The Centers for Disease Control lists guidelines visit: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/pdf/breast-cancer-screening-guidelines-508.pdf

Generally, it’s recommended women with average risk start screening between 40 to 49 years.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation (https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-faqs/can-breastfeeding-reduce-the-risk-of-breast-cancer/) has all sorts of information, such as “Breastfeeding can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer, but requires breastfeeding to be continuous for a relatively long time.” YES! Nursing three kids for what seemed like years, may have paid off—and perhaps it’s time to urge America to go natural rather than use baby formula.

Another fact: Men can get breast cancer, which is usually detected as a hard lump underneath the nipple and areola. “Men carry a higher mortality than women do, by 25%, primarily because awareness among men is less and they are less likely to assume a lump is breast cancer, which can cause a delay in seeking treatment,” the site notes.

My checkup was fine. I shouldn’t have waited four years.

Now for the sermon/lecture: Go get a mammogram done, there are really no good excuses.

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