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Cancer Survivors Say Mammogram Key To Survival

By Carol Cavazos, CBS 11 News
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A woman receives a mammogram screening. (credit: Getty Images/D. Clarke Evans/NBAE)

A woman receives a mammogram screening. (credit: Getty Images/D. Clarke Evans/NBAE)

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force stunned the medical community in 2009 when it recommended women wait until the age of 50 for their first mammogram.

But a new Harris poll reveals most women in their 40′s want their mammograms.

57 percent of the women surveyed thought mammograms should begin right at the age of 40.

But a whopping 72 percent of the women in their disagreed with the Task Force recommendation that mammograms should begin at age 50.

One North Texas breast cancer survivor says when it comes to screening, the earlier the better.

Melanie Savins-Cude, a Midlothian school teacher has herself learned it’s never too early to check for breast cancer. “I felt something hard just under my skin,” Melanie said.

She found the lump during a self exam in the shower.

She remembers it was just before Thanksgiving of 2009.

Digital mammography confirmed she had Stage 1 breast cancer. A genetic test confirmed she carried the breast cancer gene.

“I had a very aggressive cancer,” Melanie said.

Melanie knew she had aunts on her father’s side of the family who had breast cancer. She didn’t know she could be at risk for breast cancer because of it.

Doctors say, a woman has a 10 percent chance of developing breast cancer when someone on her father’s side has been diagnosed with it.

Someone with the BRCA or breast cancer gene has an 80 percent chance of developing breast cancer or ovarian cancer in their lifetime.

Melanie’s husband Jim, a Navy Seabee in Afghanistan at the time, flew home for her operation: a double mastectomy.

She was only 39.

Doctors with Methodist Mansfield Health System follow the American Cancer Society recommendation for a baseline mammogram at age 40.

Dr. Doug Hammons, the hospital’s Radiology Director said, “The microcalcifications can be smaller than a milimeter, close to the resolution of the head of a pin.”

Melanie’s surgeon, Dr. Columbus Floyd, said he believes the recommedation from the U.S Preventive Service Task Force to delay mammograms until age 50 was ill advised.

“I think it was a study to show how we could save money in medicine,” Dr. Floyd said.

Dr. Floyd said it should be about saving lives.

“I think we would find a lot more advanced breast cancers if we waited til age 50 to start screenings,” Dr. Floyd said.

Melanie Savins-Cude has two children to look after.  “Very thankful to be alive,” Melanie said beginning to cry.

She couldn’t imagine anyone waiting until age 50 for a mammogram.

“It’s way too long. Way too long,” Melanie said.

For more information about breast cancer
http://www.breastsurgeons.org and
http://www.methodisthealthsystem.org/body.cfm?id=3333

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