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Breast Cancer Survivors Say Study Sends Wrong Message

11:38 PM, Nov 17, 2009   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC. (WUSA) -- Many breast cancer survivors and those touched by cancer are outraged at a study by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommending women wait until 50 to get a mammogram and get one every other year.

9NEWS NOW talked with two women who might not be alive today if it weren't for mammograms. Their breast cancer was detected early and they are both under age 50.

They say they are living proof this new study sends the wrong message.

Sarah Fought says, "I'm a poster child for the mammogram. My cancer was detected by a mammogram, and my prognosis is excellent."

Forty-nine-year-old Fought was diagnosed with breast cancer 7 years ago.  

Since Fought's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at 81 years old and survived, Sarah was not considered at a higher risk for getting breast cancer.

Fought says, "It was so deep, I don't' know if I would've found it until it was much larger."

Maimah Karmo, who had no family history of breast cancer, was 32 when her cancer surfaced in her right breast.

Karmo says, "I'm shocked. I'm shocked and appalled.  Are you telling me women under 40 don't matter?"

Karmo started the non-profit organization Tiger Lilly to educate young women affected by breast cancer.

She says those under 40 usually have a more aggressive cancer with a higher mortality rate.

According to the study these two women represent a minority. 
The American Cancer Society says there are 250,000 people living with breast cancer in the United States. And the more than 11,000 people who are diagnosed each year are under 40.

Karmo says, "We're not in the majority.  We do matter, these girls matter.  Give me a tool and we'll shut up, give me a tool for these girls who are calling me every day who are dying."

She goes on to say, "The people who did this study are not looking at these women; these women have a heart beat."

Fought says, "I'm living proof seven years out and cancer free."

Karmo says the majority who are diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of breast cancer and are not considered at higher risk. 

Some are wondering what kind of impact this study will have and if it may make it harder now for women under 50 to request mammograms and question if their health insurance will pay for them.

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Written by Surae Chinn
9NEWS NOW & wusa9.com

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