Government guidelines impact East Texas mammograms say doctors - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Government guidelines impact East Texas mammograms say doctors


By Sara Story - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - In the wake of a government panel's new mammography guidelines, East Texas doctors say there has been a drastic decrease in breast cancer screenings. The new recommendations, that suggested women should not get routine mammograms until age 50, were met with fierce criticism. Now, some East Texas doctors say the negative effects of the guidelines are obvious. They claim they've seen a 30% drop in mammograms since the study came out in November.

Breast cancer claimed Gina Sundeen's mom at 45. Since then, Gina has taken aggressive steps towards protecting her own health. "From the time I was 26, I've had a mammogram at least every year," she said.

Her proactive approach saved her life. In 2008, Gina's mammogram was clear. Just 12 months later, her mammogram showed an aggressive tumor. The 47-year-old said it was "stage one and grade three, which is the most aggressive."

Less than a month after her cancer was removed, a government task force told the nation that most women can put off mammograms until age 50. These recommendations bothered Gina. "I think they would have looked at me and said there is nothing you can do," she said. "Go home. If I was even alive at 50, because mine is so aggressive."

"I feel confident saying this mammogram probably saved her life," said Dr. Michael Klouda, the Medical Director for ETMC Breast Care Center. Klouda says he strongly disagrees with the guidelines, but women are listening to the suggestions. "We found many reasons for why they did not show up, some of the usual ones. However, the recommendation not to get a mammogram was part of that," said Klouda. 

Klouda said that 1 in 5 women diagnosed with breast cancer in East Texas are age 40 to 45, and the loss of screening in this age group is bad news. "It will be more advanced. The tumors will be larger. The spread to the lymph nodes or the rest of the body will be more extensive, it will be much harder to treat, much harder to cure," said Klouda. This is an outcome that women like Gina can not afford.

Gina says she is currently cancer free. She has one more round of chemotherapy, and she will undergo a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery in May.

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