GREENVILLE, N.C. – There’s new reaction to recent recommendations pushing back breast cancer screenings to age 45. One local medical professional believes that could be too late for many women.
Amy McMahon never thought she’d have stage two breast cancer at age 32.
“I called my oldest daughter in and asked her if she felt what I felt,” explained McMahon. “My lump was pretty high up in my chest, so she looked at me and the first thing out of her mouth was, ‘Mom is it cancer?’”
McMahon, a nurse and mother of four, with no family history of breast cancer, was diagnosed with stage two last October. She credits self-exams, saying, if she hadn’t checked, it may have been too late.
“Waiting until 45 would have delayed my treatment and rather my breast cancer was found at stage two,” she said.
The American Cancer Society now says those with an average risk of breast cancer should begin getting mammograms at age 45 instead of 40. For many women, these new recommendations are tough to grasp.
“With the data that they are using is based on the mammograms they have used in the past which are 2D and now we are moving to 3D,” said McMahon.
Some doctors also question the change. Breast Imaging Specialist Anjali Malik says there are always risks associated with anything.
“We do have woman who get biopsies that may not have needed them but the number is low and the risk associated is still quite low,” explained Malik. She does encourage her patients to check their breasts monthly. “We have many women who find their cancers before they would have got their mammogram.”
McMahon agrees, saying, “If I wouldn’t have done a self-exam, I probably wouldn’t be living.”
She had her last chemo treatment in June, but still has a long road ahead.
Now, she’s a mom on a mission advocating for other women to be vigilant and go to the doctor immediately if they feel a lump.
McMahon joined a group called Young Survival Coalition. Women get together in Pitt County and encourage others who are dealing with similar issues.