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White Coat, Black Art on CBC Radio

Screened Out: Do Canada’s breast cancer screening guidelines put 40-something women at risk?

26:39 | Dec 13th, 2019

3 recommendations
Twenty percent of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are in their forties. But Canadian screening guidelines say little about what women at that age should be doing to stay on top of the “big ...Show More


epekilis recommended:Jan 18th

Thanks for the recommendation. This was very thought provoking. They did not go deep into why the recommendations were changed to drop the mammogram screening requirement for women over 40. Later in the episode they gave two reasons: 1) that screening in the 40 - 50 age bracket generated too many false positives; and 2) that screening in the 40 - 50 age bracket did not contribute to enhanced survival rates. I’d like to find out more about this, especially #2. (My understanding is that AI can really help reduce the false positives). If the type of screening technology we have now doesn’t actually result in increased odds of survival for women in the 40 - 50 age bracket, and breast cancer is a leading cause of death, then that’s something they should have explored more. Is more basic science / research for this age group needed? Are new screening technologies and procedures the answer rather than leaving women in this age bracket with no alternative, which appears to be the current situation? If the screening is ineffective, then re-implementing it sounds like a feel-good bandaid that gives people the sensation that they are being cared for without the results. Honestly, I feel a bit manipulated by the episode. It focused very much on extremely compelling lived experiences of individuals who believe that screening in the 40 - 50 age bracket would have helped them or their loved ones, but I’m not sure that the episode proved to me that their hope was accurate based on the actual ability of the screening technology to improve health prospects for women in that age group. In other words, I felt that the episode was kind of helping to drive some false hope through rage. Would rather they had focused on the promising research that MUST exist somewhere (mustn’t it?) to find better breast cancer diagnostics for younger women. Or is that a false hope too, and the research isn’t going on? Surely it must be. Now I’m on a mission and I want to find a podcast on this topic. Anybody know of one?

alicekoJan 18th

@serena I'm keeping my eye on podcasts that discuss better breast cancer diagnostics for young women - let me know if you see any!

serenaJan 22nd

@aliceko I have an article I'll send you on this, as there is evidence to suggest the common perception that more frequent testing is benefical is actually false, and exposes women to unnecessary radiation

aliceko recommended:Jan 2nd

Important episode for all women to listen to. Take your breast health seriously because your doctor and the public health care system won’t do it for you. I have a close friend who was misdiagnosed during her early 30s. She felt physical pain in her breasts and two specialists said nothing was wrong. She listened to her own body and went for a third opinion and it was only then that she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. As the episode suggests, stage 4 is not curable. It’s crazy to hear about the differences between screening policies between BC and Ontario. The most important takeaway for me is to learn how to identify warning signs in your own body and to know when to ask for a mammogram. @serena @susanle

gndv recommended:Jan 1st

White Coat Black Art brings the human experience back into the healthcare narrative & is not afraid to point out areas where our healthcare system needs to improve. Can every health care worker listen to this podcast. This episode is a great example of seeing where the healthcare has system failed and highlights some of the inconsistencies in preventative measures between provinces.

mmJan 1st

What I'm really worried about is women in their 30's getting breast cancer, let alone 40's. I know of a few people with stage 4 breast cancer in their 30's and it's so scary! @epekilis @aliceko

alicekoJan 1st

@mm @epekillis This episode is important - thank you, will listen!

alicekoJan 2nd

@gndv Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention!

gndvJan 2nd

@aliceko you are very welcome. I’m sorry to hear how this also affected your friend.

epekilisJan 10th

@aliceko @gndv Thanks added to list.