Courtesy Stephanie Scott/Jaclyn Fisher/Joann Long/Susan Lorenz
  • Women Who Say Mammograms Before 50 Saved Their Lives

    The U.S. Preventive Service Task Force announced Nov. 16, 2009, that it now recommends against annual mammograms for women 40 to 49 because the potential harms of routine screening in this age group outweigh the benefits. These downsides include radiation exposure, cost and the trauma of false positives. Many doctors agree with the new guidelines. But some breast cancer survivors back the screenings. ABC News asked <a href="http://www.breastcancer.org/"target="external">BreastCancer.org</a> and <a href="http://www.networkofstrength.org/"target="external">Breast Cancer Network of Strength</a> for stories from women who believe that mammograms they received before age 50 saved their lives. Here are the experiences of a few of the women who shared their stories with us.
    Courtesy Stephanie Scott/Jaclyn Fisher/Joann Long/Susan Lorenz
  • Women Who Say Mammograms Before 50 Saved Their Lives

    Jaclyn Fletcher said she has diligently had her annual mammograms since she was 40. She said that at age 48, a mammogram detected a lump she could not feel with a breast self-exam -- a lump that turned out to be a stage II, aggressively spreading cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes. "Without my annual mammogram I had this year at age 48, I shudder to think of how advanced my breast cancer would have been if I had to wait another two years, until age 50+ to get one... I cannot fathom how large [my tumor] may have grown and/or how far it may have spread if I waited an additional two years until after I reached the age of 50." <i>For more personal stories about breast cancer, visit <a href="http://www.breastcancer.org/"target="external">BreastCancer.org</a>.</i>
    Courtesy Jaclyn Fletcher
  • Women who say mammograms before 50 saved their lives

    Last January, when Stephanie Scott was 35, a mammogram found a 3-centimeter lump in her breast that she could not feel, despite having performed regular breast self-exams. She has since had surgery, completed chemo in August, and had 33 radiation treatments. Today, doctors can find no evidence of her disease. "Without the diagnostic mammogram I received I would have not known cancer was trying to take over my body... I was specifically told by my radiologist that if they would have found this cancer even six months after my diagnosing mammogram, they would have been having a different conversation with me." <i>For more personal stories about breast cancer, visit <a href="http://www.breastcancer.org/"target="external">BreastCancer.org</a>.</i>
    Courtesy Stephanie Scott
  • Women who say mammograms before 50 saved their lives

    Joann Long, who has no family history of breast cancer, had delayed her fourth-ever mammogram due to other members of her family being hospitalized. But when she had her next mammogram, doctors found her breast cancer. She began receiving treatment immediately. "Anyone with cancer knows time is of the essence and critical in your fight for survival. Delay and detecting any cancers at later stages is a sure way to stack the odds of survival against you." <i>For more personal stories about breast cancer, visit <a href="http://www.breastcancer.org/"target="external">BreastCancer.org</a>.</i>
    Courtesy Joann Long
  • Women who say mammograms before 50 saved their lives

    Sheila Swallows began mammograms at the age of 41. At age 44, she had her first abnormal result, which showed a pre-cancer in her left breast. Eighteen months later, just before her 46th birthday, she had another abnormal mammogram, and six months after that, a mammogram found a cancer that had not yet spread. "Without the vigilant screening with the mammograms starting around the age of 41, I wouldn't have discovered the cancer until it had grown large enough to feel and become invasive to the surrounding breast tissue -- and possibly to the lymph nodes -- and at that point [I] would have had to go through chemotherapy and radiation treatments." <i>For more personal stories about breast cancer, visit <a href="http://www.breastcancer.org/"target="external">BreastCancer.org</a>.</i>
    Courtesy Sheila Swallows
  • Women who say mammograms before 50 saved their lives

    At age 41 , Anne Marie Flynn had her second-ever mammogram. This mammogram detected six microcalcifications -- often a benign breast abnormality, but in this case it turned out to be the sign of a malignancy. The small, 6mm cancer had spread to Flynn's lymph nodes; it was stage IIIc. "My oncologist feels that given the small size of the tumor, but how it spread to the lymph nodes, that it was a somewhat aggressive cancer. If I hadn't had a [mammogram] until age 50, it is likely I would be stage IV and had a much different prognosis. I am five years out from treatment and am doing well." <i>For more personal stories about breast cancer, visit <a href="http://www.breastcancer.org/"target="external">BreastCancer.org</a>.</i>
    Courtesy Anne Marie Flynn
  • Women who say mammograms before 50 saved their lives

    Lauri-Anne Hammond's first bout with cancer was in 2002, when she faced liver cancer. Two years later, Hammond, then 46, had a mammogram on the advice of a nurse practitioner. The mammogram revealed a stage 1 tumor. "I did not feel a lump, it was found only because of a schedule of regular screening. Left to my own devices, I would have, like many women, put it off until well after 50 just to avoid the uncomfortable-ness. I now have the gift of looking forward to reclaiming the title of survivor, and living a long, normal, happy life. This year, Hammond's doctors found yet another breast cancer, for which she is now receiving treatment. <i>For more personal stories about breast cancer, visit <a href="http://www.breastcancer.org/"target="external">BreastCancer.org</a>.</i>
    Courtesy Lauri Anne Hammond
  • Women who say mammograms before 50 saved their lives

    Pam Pierce had her second mammogram at age 45. It revealed a tumor in her breast that she had not known was there, even though she performed regular breast self-exams. She had a mastectomy seven days after this discovery, followed by six rounds of chemotherapy and five years of Tamoxifen. Today, she has been cancer-free for 10 years. "To have mammograms not being offered until age 50 is an outrage and taking a risk with women's lives. I have a 32-year-old daughter, and she now has a breast cancer [family] history. I want this available to her and all young women who need them." <i>For more personal stories about breast cancer, visit <a href="http://www.breastcancer.org/"target="external">BreastCancer.org</a>.</i>
    Courtesy Pam Pierce
  • Women who say mammograms before 50 saved their lives

    Susan Lorenz had her fifth annual mammogram last year, at age 44. Even though she had no family history of breast cancer, Lorenz's doctor had recommended that she have regular mammograms. When she received a call from the clinic that she needed additional screening on her left breast, she did not suspect that she had cancer -- but a later ultrasound and biopsy confirmed that she had a tumor. "No one was more shocked than me. My mother, upon hearing the news kept saying, 'but breast cancer doesn't run in our family...' Well, Mom, it does now." <i>For more personal stories about breast cancer, visit <a href="http://www.breastcancer.org/"target="external">BreastCancer.org</a>.</i>
    Courtesy Susan Lorenz
  • Women Who Say Mammograms Before 50 Saved Their Lives

    Amalia Rigoni had regular mammograms at 39, 40 and 41, and when an abnormality appeared, she underwent a fine needle biopsy. The biopsy revealed cancer. "I believe that women should definitely continue to get mammograms... I was 42 when diagnosed and have no family history, as 8 out of 10 women who are diagnosed also do not have family history, "Rigoni said." Even if it is 1 out of 1,000 women … saved by a mammogram, that woman has a face and is more than a statistic. It could be your mother, daughter, sister or another woman in your life." <i>For more information, visit <a href="http://www.networkofstrength.org/redir/abc.html"target="external">Breast Cancer Network of Strength</a>.</i>
    Courtesy Amalia Rigoni
  • Women Who Say Mammograms Before 50 Saved Their Lives

    Andrea Evans was 46 when a mammogram revealed that she had three areas of cancer on one breast and precancerous spots on the other -- a surprise, she said, since her prior mammogram had shown no cancer at all. "We have a strong family history, and I am already worrying about my 24-year-old daughter having to wait until she is 40 to get a mammogram -- and now 50!" <i>For more information, visit <a href="http://www.networkofstrength.org/redir/abc.html"target="external">Breast Cancer Network of Strength</a>.</i>
    Courtesy Andrea Evans
  • Women Who Say Mammograms Before 50 Saved Their Lives

    Dawn Christensen, 42, was diagnosed this month with breast cancer. A mammogram in October revealed an aggressive tumor that had not yet begun to spread. Because this cancer has not yet metastasized, her treatment will be minimal. "The costs to my insurance company will be minimal as a result. If my insurance was employer-paid, the resulting price increases based on claims experience would be less as a result. My downtime from work will be less as a result. But most importantly, I get to still be a mom during my treatment and survive!" <i>For more personal stories about breast cancer, visit <a href="http://www.breastcancer.org/"target="external">BreastCancer.org</a>.</i>
    Courtesy Dawn Christensen
  • Women Who Say Mammograms Before 50 Saved Their Lives

    Donna Pelletier had her first mammogram at age 44 when she found a lump in her breast. While this lump turned out to be benign, a mammogram two years later showed she had metastatic breast disease that had spread to her bones. "Currently, the three-step preventive process includes self exam, clinical exam and mammography on a routine basis. Until a new plan of early detection can be recommended through evidence based science, we are taking major steps backward in our preventive efforts by changing this current standard." <i>For more information, visit <a href="http://www.networkofstrength.org/redir/abc.html"target="external">Breast Cancer Network of Strength</a>.</i>
    Courtesy Donna Pelletier
  • Women Who Say Mammograms Before 50 Saved Their Lives

    Judy Guitelman, pictured here with her two daughters, followed previous guidelines for mammograms, having one every year since she turned 40. When she was 44, she said, a mammogram revealed a suspicious spot on her breast -- a spot that turned out to be cancer. "I am the mother of two beautiful daughters who will eventually need mammograms, too. I think mammograms save lives and they saved mine." <i>For more information, visit <a href="http://www.networkofstrength.org/redir/abc.html"target="external">Breast Cancer Network of Strength</a>.</i>
    Courtesy Judy Guitelman
  • Women Who Say Mammograms Before 50 Saved Their Lives

    Liz Holmes, a 46-year-old stay-at-home mom with two young children, had her first mammogram when she was 42. However, she did not have another until this past August. That most recent mammogram detected a stage I breast cancer that had fortunately not spread to her lymph nodes. She is now undergoing treatment. "I had the attitude of 'there is no history of breast cancer in my family, and I work out and take care of myself; breast cancer can't possibly happen to me,' so I didn't go in for my yearly mammograms. Boy, was I ever wrong." <i>For more personal stories about breast cancer, visit <a href="http://www.breastcancer.org/"target="external">BreastCancer.org</a>.</i>
    Courtesy Liz Holmes
  • Women Who Say Mammograms Before 50 Saved Their Lives

    Nancy Nixon started getting mammograms at age 40. She was diagnosed at 47 with a stage II cancer, for which she subsequently sought treatment. "Having a yearly mammogram made me feel somewhat secure... Everyone that I know in my age group that has breast cancer was diagnosed in their 40s. I believe they all feel the same way I do; mammograms are not perfect but we have no other choice today." <i>For more information, visit <a href="http://www.networkofstrength.org/redir/abc.html"target="external">Breast Cancer Network of Strength</a>.</i>
    Courtesy Nancy Nixon
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