Here's a selection of calls, comments and Tweets that came in during The Daily Circuit's discussion of breast cancer on Wednesday:
Susan in Egan: My sister at 48 died of inflammatory breast cancer. She was first diagnosed at age 47 and died within six months. And one of my questions to her, when we first found out, was, "When was your last mammogram?" And she said she had never had one. To my shock. We had no family history at all of breast cancer. So as her oncologist states, she is now the beginning of our family history.
Wendy Johnston: I opted to have a preventive bilateral mastectomy because my mother and sister were diagnosed. I tested negative for the BRCA1 and 2, but I had dense tissue, and pre-cancer tissue (atypical hypoplasia) was removed a year or so before hand. Before the surgery, I had an MRI to make sure I was cancer free before the surgery, and it showed no sign of cancer. However, they discovered I in fact did have cancer (ductal and lobular) which had not shown on the MRI or mammograms.
Michael White: I find the parallels in this discussion to the gun debate hard to ignore. If one life is saved isn't it worth the perceived price — figurative or literal? My wife was diagnosed in late 2008 with breast cancer, had brain metastasis and now has two spots in her bones. Trust me, the fear of cancer is nothing compared to the reality of it.
Julie: Breast-cancer awareness campaigns have grown to the level of fear mongering. My sister died of breast cancer and people around me are shocked to hear that I'm not getting mammograms continuously. I'm amazed at the volume of bad information out there about cancer. The constant attention on breast cancer has not improved people's understanding, it's only increased my stress and yogurt sales.
Mary: If I had followed the current advice about getting fewer mammograms, I would not be here. Anecdotal? Yes. My anecdote, my life.
Val: I did have DCIS, diagnosed by mammography more than 10 years ago and ended up having a mastectomy. And if I'd gotten that information today, I wouldn't have made the same choice. From my reading about this in the New York Times and other places, it's questionable whether there's even been a decrease in the death rate of breast cancer. Because if you subtract out all the DCIS cases from the total denominator, which wouldn't have been diagnosed prior to mammography, then the death rates roughly about the same as it was.
Stephanie Curtis: What is DCIS? This is from Mayo Clinic: "Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is the presence of abnormal cells inside a milk duct in the breast. DCIS is considered the earliest form of breast cancer. DCIS is noninvasive, meaning it hasn't spread out of the milk duct to invade other parts of the breast."
Anonymous caller in St. Paul: I had a double mastectomy a year and a half ago based on having LCIS which is not even DCIS ... once you go through the mammogram, once you're talking to your doctor, you find out that it's an art, it's not an absolute science. If we knew everything about everything, we'd have diagnosed it and treated it and not had these problems. ... To me, it was not such a big deal to make a decision where I could rid myself of the possibility of this terrible disease.
Beth in Minneapolis: I used to work in market research ... I've sat in marketing meetings with CEOs who say, 'Let's make the box pink, and we'll increase sales.' There are holidays throughout the year, and in the springtrime there's nothing going on so it's like, 'Let's support breast cancer awareness.' ... What they're looking at is profit.
@kerrimpr It makes women pay more attention to their breasts than heart, but 1 in 2 women die of heart disease vs.1 in 25 of breast cancer.— Kellee O'Reilly (@KelleeOReilly) May 8, 2013
LEARN MORE ABOUT BREAST CANCER:
Dr. Susan Love: Cancer Research on Real Women
• Customize starting age and frequency of mammograms
"While mammography screening indisputably decreases deaths from breast cancer, there is disagreement as to when women should begin mammography and how often they should get it: every two years starting at 50 or every year starting at 40?" (University of California San Francisco)
• Susan Love's Illness Gives New Focus to Her Cause
"During a talk last spring in San Francisco, Dr. Susan Love, the well-known breast cancer book author and patient advocate, chided the research establishment for ignoring the needs of people with cancer. 'The only difference between a researcher and a patient is a diagnosis,' she told the crowd. 'We're all patients.'" (The New York Times)
• New breast cancer research identifies four distinct types
"A new study published this week in Nature is reshaping the scientific understanding of breast cancer. The findings divide breast cancer into four distinct types and researchers expect the study will lead to treatment innovations." (MPR)
• Breast cancer treatment in Minnesota already following new study guidelines
"Breast cancer care in the Twin Cities is rapidly moving toward less aggressive surgery for the disease when it has migrated to a woman's lymph nodes." (MPR)