Janelle's Blog

Mammograms Still Save Women’s Lives

My son, Kevin Hail, COO of National Breast Cancer Foundation arrived at work before me today. As he walked down the hallway at our NBCF headquarters, he looked in my empty office and said aloud, “I thank God Mom got a mammogram before the age of 50.”

At 34 years old, I felt a lump while performing a breast self-exam. Concerned, I got a mammogram that detected breast cancer. If it had not been for breast self-exams and a mammogram, I would not be alive today and the National Breast Cancer Foundation would not exist. Twenty-nine years later, I am healthy and cancer free due to early detection.

The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends women ages 40 to 49 should not get annual mammograms and that women 50 to 74 should only be screened every other year instead of every year. They do not see the need for women 75 and over to receive mammograms. The Task Force further recommends against teaching breast self-examination (BSE). The reason US Preventive Services Task Force gives these recommendations is that risks do not outweigh the benefits.

The Task Force’s mandate for a woman to abandon breast self-exams, which is her method of staying in touch with her own body, and the recommended changes in such screenings are dangerous because it suggests that a woman should lay down her best weapon in the fight against breast cancer, which is early detection.

NBCF supports medical facilities across the nation. Dr. David Dershaw, director of breast imaging at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City responds to these guidelines: “There is no doubt that mammography screening in women in their 40’s saves lives. To recommend that women abandon that is absolutely horrifying to me.”

Most insurance coverage enables women to get mammograms starting at age 40. The mortality rate for breast cancer deaths has dropped since 1990, when organizations started recommending mammograms for women in their 40s and breast cancer awareness became nationally recognized. If insurance companies follow the recommendations of US Preventive Services Task Force, fewer women that have breast cancer will detect it early enough to prevent their death.

NBCF already provides mammograms across 42 states for women who cannot afford them. Our goal is to increase the coverage all across the nation as funding is made available to us from our dedicated supporters. Two million breast cancer survivors in the United States are strong advocates for early detection. We at NBCF believe so strongly in early detection, that we have formulated an Early Detection Plan on our website at www.nbcf.org/edp. Our plan consists of three legs: monthly self-exams, regular clinical exams, and mammograms. Removing any leg of the Early Detection Plan tripod is like stripping away a woman’s rights to preventative healthcare. Thousands have signed up for our Early Detection Plan, with easy access to customize the way they want to be reminded of these three steps, using technology of their choice. Join us today by signing up for your Early Detection Plan.

Here is an email that just arrived a few minutes ago at NBCF: “I just want to thank you, Janelle for doing the work you do to protect those like me! I am 48 years old. I had a bi-lateral mastectomy on October 28th, 2008. People like you get the message out and educate the public. For my daughter, her future children, male and female and all to come, I thank you!”

Quote for Today:

From NBCF to all of the women who are alive today because of early detection and all of those yet to be born, we will continue to deliver a message of early detection.”—Janelle Hail

Live Life,


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