East Texas doctors respond to new guidelines

By Sara Story - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The new breast cancer prevention guidelines have sparked confusion and skepticism by women across the nation. Doctors say their offices have been flooded by phone calls from concerned patients.

"It doesn't make sense on any level for any person to put their heads in the sand like and ostrich and say we shouldn't be checking ourselves or shouldn't be vigilant about the disease," said Dr. John Larrinaga, Medical Director, Ross Breast Center at Trinity Mother Frances Hospital. "It's the leading cause of non-preventable cancer deaths in the us."

Dr. Larrinaga says the new screening recommendations have him fearing for his patients.

"This is just wrong," said Larrinaga. "This is not scientifically supported."

Something that is scientifically supported is the number of breast cancer deaths.

"Seventeen percent of breast cancer deaths happen to women in their 40s," said Larrinaga. "That compares to 22 percent of women in their 50s."

The difference is small, but the task force still says women under 40 should stop getting mammograms. They say it is an effort to cut down on false negatives - a problem Dr. Joseph Martins says is very costly.

"These things do have a cost," said Martins. "They have a cost to society in terms of the cost of all the excess testing and they have a cost to the individual in terms of the risk of perhaps unnecessary procedures. They are trying to make a decision for the whole population. That's to say: what's enough and not too much?"

But, it's a decision Dr. Larrinaga says is misguided.

"Whether women and their doctors support this...reimbursement will likely ultimately be cut," said Larrinaga. "Support for mammographies will decline and breast cancer deaths will increase."

No matter the stance, he says patients should talk to their doctors before drawing the line. Dr. Larrinaga says he will continue telling his patients to get annual mammograms once they turn 40.

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