Today’s Editorial for November 19: Ignore latest breast cancer advice

The news coming out of the United States to women younger than 50 this week is alarming.

A task force made up of physicians has recommended that women with no family history or those who are not at risk of breast cancer should wait until they are 50 before having regular mammograms.

The task force also recommends that self breast exams come to an end.

This smacks in the face of advice given by doctors for decades telling women to get annual breast examinations beginning at the age of 40 and to do self exams.

Fortunately Dr. Sook Yin and other medical doctors in the Cayman Islands aren’t going to take the task force’s recommendations to heart.

What is frightening is that insurance companies could pick up on the mantra from this task force and begin refusing insurance payments for basic mammograms for women younger than 50.

That would be wrong, as is the thinking of this task force.

Essentially what they are saying is that mammograms and self examinations for women younger than 50 are a waste time because the number of lives saved through these procedures isn’t enough to recommend widespread screening.


While the mortality rate of breast cancer deaths may have decreased – because of early detection – the disease itself has not waned.

Hundreds of lives have been saved through both self breast exams and mammograms on women much younger than 50.

We would hope that the medical insurance industry in the Cayman Islands will cast a jaundiced eye at the task force’s recommendations and won’t use this as an excuse to not pay for mammograms, which cost around $150.

Just last month the Cayman Islands celebrated Breast Cancer Awareness Month in which the Lions Club of Tropical Gardens handed out close to 600 vouchers for free mammograms. The Cancer Society of the Cayman Islands is constantly paying for mammograms that women can’t afford. And area doctors have a habit of chastising women 40 and older who don’t get annual mammograms.

If you are 40 or older, please continue to do self breast examinations and get mammograms.