Danbury Hospital New Milford Hospital

SPR 2013

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

Issue link: https://spiritofwomen.epubxp.com/i/122212

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Page 7 of 15

P R E V E N T I V E H E A L T H The NEW BREAST HEALTH RECOMMENDATIONS and what they mean for you By Margaret Littman S hould you get a mammogram at age 40? 50? Every year? Every two years? As major medical groups continue to refine their breast health recommendations, it's no wonder many women are still uncertain about when and how often they should be undergoing this valuable screening for breast cancer based on their risk of developing the disease. "'Am I high risk or not high risk?' women would ask," says Dr. Dharti Sheth, medical director of the Breast Center at Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe, in Grosse Pointe, Mich. "Patients would ask, 'Am I high risk because of fibroids or because of my family history?'" Further complicating the issue is that the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute now have different guidelines than the U.S. Preven8 SPI RIT O F WOM EN S P R I N G 2 013 tive Services Task Force (USPSTF) for mammograms, as well as for other preventive breast health screening steps. The first thing to understand about any guidelines, say physicians, is that they are just a starting place. For example, none of the recommendations that suggest women should have mammograms less frequently apply to those who are in a high-risk category or who have already been diagnosed with cancer of any kind. Here's a look at some of the latest breast health screening guidelines and how they may apply to you. Age 25: At this age, a first mammo- gram is generally appropriate only for women who have a documented genetic history of breast cancer, meaning they have tested positive for the BRCA1 or w w w.W C H N . o r g GE NE T IC T EST IN G While there used to be concerns about discrimination based on the results of genetic testing (because the results of those tests were considered to be pre-existing conditions), those days are gone. With the protections offered by the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, women should feel comfortable having BRCA1 or BRCA2 testing done to identify genetic predisposition to certain cancers. Kimberly King-Spohn, a genetic counselor affliated with Wellstar Health System, Marietta, Ga., says many insurance companies are now paying for these tests, which can cost as much as $3,500.

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