MINNEAPOLIS, Minn -- For Katy Tessman Stanoch, it has been been an overwhelming month. A month that's taken her from looking forward to a milestone birthday to shopping for hats and scarves.
Just weeks before her 40th birthday, Katy followed a birthday tradition: to go for her annual exam. And because of the milestone year, she also opted to undergo a mammogram.
The mammogram and succeeding ultrasound images and biopsy all confirmed the mother of two had breast cancer. On her 40th birthday, Katy underwent a double masectomy.
"There's the Grandma plan. I'm going to live to be a Grandma. So this is how we have to do it. I don't like any of it all, it's very awful, but if that's the way I'm going to become a Grandma, I'll be a Grandma that way," she said on Monday from her Minnetonka home.
But just as the battle begins for Katy, a government task force is also coming out to drastically modify the federal recommendations of when women should get mammograms.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says women who are not at high risk for breast cancer can wait until they're 50 to get a mammogram and then get it just every other year. They also say breast self-exams have no value. The new guidelines do not apply to women with a family history of the disease.
Overall, supporters say the guidelines will result in fewer false alarms.
"Women need to understand that there is a small, additional benefit from starting screening at age 40-49, compared with starting later. But there's also a set of accumulating harms," said Dr. Diana Petitti with the task force, referring to unnecessary biopsies.
But major medical groups argue it's those very alarms that still save lives.
"People will often say the worst thing you can hear is, 'you have cancer.' But at the American Cancer Society, there's something worse than that, and that's to have a doctor tell you, 'I wish I had known earlier,'" said Lou Harvin with the American Cancer Society Midwest Chapter.
Other groups agree with the society's strong position on the recommendations, including the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.
"We don't want any change in the screening and reimbursement policy and so we'll continue on with our recommendation at this time," said Denise Blumberg-Tendle with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, Minnesota Affiliate.
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