New federal mammogram guidelines outrages local cancer survivor - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

11/19/09

New federal mammogram guidelines outrages local cancer survivor

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By Kristin Beerman | email

Edited by Jon Bush | email 

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – A lot of people are still hot over the new government guidelines that say instead of 40, women can wait until 50 for that first mammogram screening.  Around here, it seems nobody is more vocal about their anger over this, than Christi Devitt.  You remember her, on HealthWise, we followed her through a difficult pregnancy.

Barely into her first trimester, Christi discovered that she also had stage three breast cancer at age 29. After major surgery and six rounds of chemo during that pregnancy, her family is intact.  Little Laney is as healthy as her big brother, Connor and Christi is cancer free, but not happy with that government recommendation.

"My tumor was growing quickly. It was a very aggressive form of cancer and if I had not been aware of my own body and practicing self exam I wouldn't have found that tumor. And thank goodness my doctor had the knowledge to send for a mammogram," said Christi Devitt.

Today, Christi is cancer free, the busy mother of two and also the chair speaker of the Komen for the Cure. You might have heard Christi live Thursday morning on FM-KLLL listening to caller concerns and explaining that among major medical groups, their advice to women has not changed.    

"Komen is still recommending that women follow the guidelines already put in place, that women should have a mammogram after age of 40," says Christi Devitt.

Christi believes the government task force is sending the wrong message, which could cost some women their lives.

"I was only 29. I was pregnant. I had no family history. So what is the likelihood that a doctor would send me in for a mammogram," said Christi Devitt.  "That mammogram saved my life."

Christi says the Komen Foundation already faces a real challenge because they know that a third of the women who qualify for screening in this area, are not receiving those services, due to a lack of access, education and awareness. Ironically, she says this controversy may be good for all that.

"I'm so glad that people are upset because they'll get to talking about this issue and it will drive home the issue that early detection saves lives," said Christie Devitt.

It saves families, like the Devitt family, because Christi got lucky and discovered her own cancer with self exam and mammography, 21 years before the government says she should do that.  As the government backs off a little and suggests women "keep doing what they have been doing," the American Cancer Society wants to make their recommendation very clear, suggesting women begin yearly mammograms at age 40, even earlier if they have a family history of breast cancer and that all women should do breast self-exams once a month, which is exactly the way Christi Devitt found her own cancer at age 29.

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