Thursday, January 24, 2013

DENSE?? HOW ABOUT SOME COMMON SENSE

I want to write an OpEd or a letter to the editor or SOMETHING but I'm not up for the tar and feathers that will follow.  I think I've already established myself as one who isn't afraid to write about things that may not be "popular."  Case in point? Yesterday.  That dense breast law that was signed months ago and went into effect in NYS some time within the past couple of days.

I'm not trying to beat a dead horse as they say.... and that's probably politically incorrect phrase but calm down.. it's a phrase..... not literal.

There was an article in Newsday about the dense breast law and "raising awareness" of its existence.  WHY?  Is it really necessary to raise AWARENESS of a law that will mandate radiologists to sent a canned letter to approximately 40% of the women who will be in their offices for mammographies.  Won't the necessary parties be AWARE upon receipt of the letter. Maybe I'm just tired of the word "aware" ....  For me, the word "awareness" conjures an imagine in my mind.  The image is pink and yes, it's the ribbon.

I am not going to reprint the article because I do not know if I am permitted to do so.  I have access to the article through my DSL provider.  In short, the article cites one activist who was the driving force behind getting this thing signed into law and one politician who took aim at the medical community by claiming they attempted to put up brick walls to stop the law. Obviously, the medical community used straw and wood because someone huffed and puffed and blew that wall down.

There was a quote at the very end from the FDA.  They are early in the process of drafting regulations to address the density issue ..... but no further details can be disclosed at this time.....  The cryptic wording leads me to believe the FDA may actually be the one who infuses common sense into this mess.

I know this is important information.  It's something we need to know.  Yes, it matters.  Not so sure about the need for the crack at my intelligence, "Are you dense?" but I have a sense of humor, so I'm shrugging that one off.  Besides, I'm not dense any longer.  As I already stated, mine are in a medical waste field (or more accurately-in a tissue bank) ....

I sent an email to the journalist who wrote the article seeking some follow up commentary from the medical community, asking for the data to support some of the purported numbers mentioned in the article.

I hope to hear from her.  I cc'd the email to the editor of the paper.  I was respectful.  Hopefully, I will be treated with the same respect and I will receive a real response.

Stay tuned......

6 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fair enough, Elaine but I still think the doctor ordering the test should be the one dispensing the information. Back when I was getting mammograms, very few times (if ever?) was it in a facility where the radiologist would actually talk to me. I had to get my info from my referring doctor. (I remember getting the letter from the radiologist telling me about my questionable mammography and I couldn't schedule a follow up.) I had to wait for the doctor who did not have office hours until the following afternoon. I didn't think it was worthy of an "emergency" call to review a letter instructing me to discuss the need for a sonogram or magnified images.

      Bottom line, if the patient can't do anything with the information and it's being dispensed by a third party who can not/ will not speak to them, I think the law needs to be "tweaked" ..... I completely agree that this is an issue that all women should know about... it's the government involvement and the manner in which the law was implemented that bugs me. (Did you see yesterday's post?)

      Strictly from a patient perspective, if someone sends me a letter about my medical tests, I expect they should also be able to discuss the information they are giving me. I hoped these guidelines would come from medical people who better understand the full ramifications and the potential ripples so they could draft a thoughtful approach that works for all parties.

      Delete
    2. Note: My comment above was in response to this which was left by my friend, Elaine Schattner, MD. Her original comment seems to have lost it's way to this post..... (I don't delete comments, but sometimes, my fingers disengage from my brain... I'm sure I DID something to mess this up!) ....sorry, Elaine .... Here's your comment:


      "Hi Anne Marie, For whatever it's worth - I think the new law is valuable. The letter may be formulaic, but it's out there to protect women from lack of follow-up. If a woman has dense breasts and mammograms the radiologists can't interpret, she should be informed of that. She should be informed about the role of ultrasound in imaging dense breasts"

      Delete
  2. Hi Anne Marie,
    What's clear is that you're trying to help! For whatever it's worth -

    I think the new law is valuable. The letter may be formulaic, but it's out there to protect women from lack of follow-up. If a woman has dense breasts and mammograms the radiologists can't interpret, she should be informed of that. She should be informed about the role of ultrasound in imaging dense breasts.

    Thanks again for raising the issue,
    Elaine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reposting, E.

      I have NO IDEA what I did and I hate that the original comment shows "removed by blog blah blah" .... That's why I made sure to copy it underneath... it still shows in my "manager" page...

      Thank you!!

      Delete
  3. I love the title of this post! So funny, and lord knows we need some comic relief when dealing with such topics. The whole dense breasts issue is such a minefield. I started having mammograms at age 36 because my mom died of ovarian cancer and my OB-GYN (who is married to an oncologist at MD Anderson) is very pro-active. Every year my mammo came back questionable, and the reason cited was dense tissue. One year I had a biopsy but it came back negative. Fast-forward a few years to DCIS and invasive tumors in one breast, and Paget Disease and 5 cm of cells just waiting to become a tumor in the other. Dense? Yeah, I guess so. Makes me wonder what had happened if there had been better procedures in place all those years ago. While it wasn't available to me at the time, perhaps all the efforts by people like you will enact the kind of changes that make a real difference for women in our shoes. I guess I don't need to worry about those dense breasts anymore, since they're gone. :(

    ReplyDelete