Lola

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Sister, it’s me. Pick up! I have news for your breasts and your cervix. Here’s the scoop:

On November 17, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released new guidelines for breast cancer screenings. Its recommendations are considered the “gold standard.”

Well, get this. They now say women should start getting mammograms at age 50 instead of 40. Women 50-74 should get them every two years and women over 75 don’t need them. That’s not all. Remember the buzz with “breast self-examination?” Well, we must stop self-examining – the breasts – altogether. It doesn’t help in early cancer detection, they say, and often results in overtreatment. Code for “ignore the lump,” it’s all in your head, and to prove you wrong is too expensive.

The American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (ACOG) is disregarding the new guidelines. Ditto for the American Cancer Society, the American College of Radiology, and the John C. Lincoln Health Network and Breast Health and Research Center in Phoenix. I’m with them on this one. Remember grandma? She was diagnosed when she was 77, ¿qué no? I understand she didn’t have much time left anyway, but thanks to her early diagnosis and treatment, we got to enjoy her for six more years.

I worry about the new guideline’s effect on insurance coverage. Some policies only cover preventive services. As abuela would say “Jesús, María y José … ¿qué vamos a hacer?” The truth is, we don’t know just yet. I also know that overtreatment is a result of false alarms, that false alarms are worrisome, and that the procedures are expensive. All that I get. But one group of experts asking doctors to disregard recommndations from another group of experts? Is this on purpose or don’t they know about the healthcare reform frenzy? Maybe it’s a good thing?

Then – you’re going to love this – on Nov 20 the ACOG issued new guidelines for cervical cancer screening: Women should get their first pap smear at 21 instead of 18, and can be rescreened less frequently than previously recommended. Women under 30, once every two years instead of annually; those age 30 and older, once every three years. Less-frequent screenings prevent cervical cancer just as well, they claim. Of course, it’s also cheaper. This is for “average” women, not the ones with abnormal results or family history of cervical cancer. But, still, don’t they know that many women see their OBGYN as their primary care doctor or seek medical attention only for their annual pap-smear test?

Everyone wants to save money off women. We still earn pennies for every dollar our male counterparts make, we tend to live longer, AND we have increasingly become the primary breadwinners. We care for our children, often for our elderly parents, too … and we pay higher insurance premiums. Maternity is a liability in actuary lingo.

Which reminds me: Did I send you the YouTube link of Senator John Kyle at a finance committee meeting? He was discussing an amendment to prohibit the federal government from “defining the healthcare benefits offered through private insurance.” You have to watch it. He says: “I don’t need maternity care, and so requiring that to be in my insurance policy is something that I don’t need, and will make the policy more expensive.” I’m not making it up. My comadre Betty posted a YouTube response: “I don’t have erectile dysfunction, or a penis for that matter; ergo, I don’t need that coverage on my policy.” Straw man fallacy and slippery slope, I know, but please. This is now a mute point because the amendment failed anyway. Those in his camp claim to represent the interests of business owners. Well, surprise! A new report by the Center for Women’s Business Research reveals that women-owned businesses generate about $3 T-R-I-L-L-I-O-N in revenue per year and employ 16 percent of the U.S. workforce. If only these women business owners would vote with their business interests in mind and their female employees as well.

Did I mention that the costs for child and adult daycare centers are about to skyrocket? I’ll tell you why later — that’s another telenovela. I’m sure Kyle doesn’t care about this either because it doesn’t “apply” to him. I wonder if he knows that men get breast cancer, too? OMG, I just had an idea! Call me ASAP. Te quiero … bye.

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