Bless you, Forbes Magazine and specifically, Contributor Elaine Schattner.  Bless the Mayo Clinic for their continued efforts to improve the detection efficiency in breast screenings.   This pertains to women who are at risk and/or have extremely dense breast tissue.

It is widely believed that the familiar, if uncomfortably painful, mammogram is still the superior detection choice for women without prior histories nor dense breast tissue.

Thanks to Forbes, and the Mayo Clinic I heard about a potentially superior detection method of breast screening for women with dense breast tissue.  (This represents nearly half of all women and I’m one of them.) Molecular Breast Imaging or MBI is the method I’m writing about.   The best results are achieved when used as a supplement to mammogram screening.   The Mayo Clinic study determined that this technique “nearly quadruples detection rates of invasive breast cancers in women with dense breast tissue..” (By Sam Smith, Mayo Clinic News Network, according to a major study published this week (1/23/15) in the American Journal of Roentgenology) Please see the first link below for this article by Sam Smith.

Did I hear about MBI from my female primary physician? Nope.

Did I hear about MBI from my female OB/GYN? Nope.

Did I hear about MBI from the diagnostic center where I get my screenings? Nope.

I heard about it from Forbes Magazine, which led me to the Mayo Clinic and then a number of other, reputable online sources-links to informative articles below.

Turns out this major study by the Mayo Clinic was performed in 2008 – 8 years and for me, 11 mammograms, 3 ultrasounds, 2 MRI’s and a biopsy ago.  Damn.

The main drawback, I’ve learned with MBI is it involves much higher doses of radiation.  However, when you factor in the study’s encouraging results, I’d like to determine if the benefits outweigh the risks. How much radiation would I receive with an MBI vs. all of the other diagnostic methods I’ve had since 2008?

An MBI is said to be less expensive than an MRI.  I like that and I’d bet most women agree!  I understand this might give some providers pause.

Finally, as of this writing, breast density notification laws have been passed in 27 states.  While my OB/GYN suggested 18 months ago that I meet with a “breast specialist” my cynicism translated that into “oh yeah, I really want to see yet another specialist.”  In hindsight, I wonder, why not tell me there are additional methodologies being studied that I might want to look into?  (See the last link below for information on the breast density notification laws.)

Now why would such laws need to be legislated and then, lobbied for, then passed and then enforced? Turns out news like this has been delivered – if it has been delivered – in widely varied ways.  Some notifications are helpful, informative and compassionate.  Others serve to alarm patients unnecessarily, delivered in cold, clinical terms that are misunderstood or too vague to be proactive.

As a believer in integrative medicine (combination of mainstream and holistic, homeopathic treatments) I cringe when criticism is levied against nutritional supplements and vitamins.  The complaint? No organization, like the FDA oversees their production; they have zero oversight and are, therefore, suspect.  They haven’t been adequately examined – no studies have been conducted.

First of all, the big names in pharmaceuticals won’t invest in studies for products they can’t patent. No money in it.  I won’t even get into the callous and opportunistic pricing of the EpiPen by Mylan..

Personally, I’m not impressed with the way the FDA does business.  An article entitled The Ten Worst Drug Recalls in the History of the FDA, names one that a sister and I were negatively impacted by: Diethylstilbestrol (DES) the anti-miscarriage drug prescribed to our Mom that screwed with people’s lives for more than 37 years.

The bottom line is we have to do the research, we have to ask the questions, and not get swept up by the enormous amount of money pharmaceutical companies have invested in advertising to market their drugs to us. This is just as true for men as it is women.   Keep asking until your questions are fully answered and you understand what you’re being told.

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