Link here to an article for which I was interviewed (by phone, no transatlantic trip –).
Just yesterday the American Cancer Association issued revised guidelines about screening mammograms, though still advising earlier and more frequent mammograms than are recommended in the UK. However, there seems to be a growing recognition that a woman’s choice about whether to go for screening should be respected, since the information we have about its use and effects is so questionable. So pressure and coercion to decide either way within the health system – and (in my view) from the pink ribbon brigade – should be minimised. Every woman should just be given the best and most current information available, and the opportunity to discuss this in relation to her own health status.
I don’t usually see daytime TV, but it was on at the gym when I was there this morning, and I caught some of the ITV “Breastmates” campaign (= team up with friends and remind each other to do breast checks). I was dismayed.
Of course we should do self-examinations – can’t argue with that. But this is a facile campaign. Firstly, I take issue with the silly visual images they kept showing of anything that is round and can come in pairs – melons, towel hooks, cupcakes – superimposed cheekily (as the programme makers think) on womens’ bodies.
Breast cancer is not a joke. Breasts are not objects of fun for public consumption. I can’t tell you how insensitive and inappropriate this succession of images seems to me, as a women who has had a mastectomy. Why don’t they show a woman with just one melon or cupcake? Or with a slashed or lopsided melon/cupcake on one or both sides? Because it would be less fun and look less good, that’s why. Because it would remind everybody what treatment for breast cancer (even early breast cancer, remember) actually entails.
More importantly, I take issue with the oversimplified message being conveyed. It may seem logical, but to say that finding and treating breast cancer early is always the best course of action is simply not true. It is way, way more complicated than that —-
In breast cancer awareness month, too many people are clicking on my post of Oct 2013 about “No Bra Day” , hoping (I assume) to see something salacious (but – ha! – I have made the picture very small). Instead, I urge readers to go to the link below for an inspirational article about a surgeon in the States who is prepared to think a bit differently (and rigorously) about breast cancer. I was at the hospital again this week and had to explain myself and my position on mammography to a new doctor. He should read this.