East Texas Specialist, Cancer Survivor Discuss Screening Guidelines

The American Cancer Society says women should get a mammogram once a year, when they turn 40.

The American College of Gynecologists says tests should be done every 1 to 2 years.

And just released Tuesday was the advice from the American College of Physicians, who says it may not be necessary to get a mammogram at age 40 because women could be exposed to radiation unnecessarily at an earlier age.

Laurie Humphries is a seven year survivor of breast cancer, diagnosed one month after her 35th birthday.

"If I had not caught my cancer as early as I did I would not have survived," says Laurie.

Laurie says she could understand why women could be confused, even frustrated, about the ever-changing guidelines on when to get a mammogram. She discovered hers through a self-breast exam.

"It was a cancer in the milk ducts of the breast and had spread outside of the milk ducts," Laurie explains.

"As far as women 40-49, this study is saying maybe they don't need to get a mammogram yet. I would say that I would disagree with that," says Dr. Michael Klouda, MD, medical director of the ETMC Breast Care Center.

Dr. Klouda says, says 20% of all breast cancers are found in women 40-55. So waiting he says could be detrimental.

"We don't have women now who are even screening eligible getting their mammogram. Ignore this advise would be my recommendation right now," says Dr. Klouda.

What also comes into play is a woman's family history, which could make them a higher risk for getting breast cancer before 40.

Although Laurie didn't fall in the high risk category, she's glad she glad she detected hers early enough to be a testimony today.

"Early detection is the key to long term survival. You can have mammograms, you can go to your ob/gyn and have yearly checks which all of things need to happen, but the most important thing is you to take charge of your body and you to get familiar with your body," says Laurie.

Dr. Klouda says it's not uncommon for guidelines to change every few years. You should have a personal discussion with your primary care physician or specialist if you have questions.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com