Thursday, October 23, 2003

mammography

Coincidence?


As I was driving to work yesterday morning, I heard a story on the preparedness of radiologists in the interpretation of mammograms. The upshot of the story was that American radiologists are less versed in interpreting the results of mammograms, and as a result, American women are much more likely to be subject to invasive surgeries to treat breast tissue lumps than are their British counterparts. This is because British radiologists are required to interpret at least 5000 mammograms a year (compared to our 80/year), which results in a more sophisticated level of discernment.

As I considered this information, that we spend too much money butchering women's breasts to find out there's nothing wrong, I thought myself lucky that no one in my family had experienced any problems with breast cancer.

Not. So. Fast.

Not two hours later, I get a call from my dad at work. He asks me "When's the last time you had a mammogram?"

So, discussing my body with my father is not something that I find very comfortable. But I replied that, since I had no family history of breast cancer and was not even close to 40 (the usual age for those sorts of things), that I had never had one.

Then he tells me that my grandmother (his mom) had a physical yesterday, and that the doctor discovered a lump on her breast. Now, if it was large enough to be discovered by a regular manual breast exam? That means it's BIG! I wonder if my grandmother's ever had a mammogram before. My family tends to receive health care on an emergency basis (not emergency room, just not the most regular about checkups), so I wouldn't be surprised if the procedure on November 18th is the first she's ever had.

I'm hoping it's just a benign cyst. Whatever the case, I am sure my grandmother will be fine. She's in her mid-70s and has been healthy up until now, so I think she has a good prognosis.

I have no desire to get a mammogram. My boobs are too small and not saggy enough yet to be squished by that horrible machine. Why can't they just do ultrasounds? Anyone know?

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