TERRE HAUTE — This week’s news about new recommendations concerning screening for breast cancer sent shock waves of concern, confusion and apprehension through a population that has grown accustomed to the practice of routine mammograms for women over 40. The study by medical experts found that those routine mammograms really aren’t warranted for the majority of women until age 50 and recommended such.
The government panel of doctors and scientists concluded that getting screened for breast cancer so early and so often leads to too many false alarms and unneeded biopsies without substantially improving women’s odds of survival.
But the new recommendations are proving controversial in the medical community, as well as among groups that deal with cancer treatment issues.
The American Cancer Society has voiced criticism of the panel’s recommendations and says it will continue the practice of advising women over age 40 to get yearly mammograms and do self-exams. Other groups are doing likewise. Even Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Health and Human Services, advised people to take a cautious approach to the panel’s recommendations and use it only as one element in the medical decision-making process.
Sebelius’ approach is the right one.
The new recommendations, it should be emphasized, are just that. They are NOT rules. They should be viewed in their proper context. As health-care consumers, we should keep an open mind about these recommendations. But decisions about care strategies such as breast-cancer screening should continue to be made by individuals in close consultation with their physicians.
If you’ve ever been to one of the local National Night Out events in Terre Haute, you already know just how spectacular they are. The city’s Police Department is to be commended for the committed leadership it has shown to build the summertime event into something special. So special, in fact, that it has received national recognition.
The local National Night Out has been ranked seventh in the nation among award winners just announced for 2009. Impressive. And the police agency will be quick to note this could not have been done without the scores of dedicated local sponsors.
Terre Haute’s ranking among communities with populations of 50,000 to 100,000 residents was the highest achievement among the many Indiana communities participating in the nationwide event.
Congratulations to all involved. It is recognition well earned.