Delaware breast cancer coalition weighs new guidelines

    Women in their 40’s who’ve been told for years the importance of breast self exam and mammograms are getting a new message from a government task force: wait until you’re 50 unless you have high risk factors.

    The mammography van run by the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition is in the process of getting new digital screening equipment.

    Last year the van traveled all around Delaware to make it easier for more than 1,200 women to get mammograms.

    Now, women in their 40’s who’ve been told for years the importance of breast self exam and mammograms are getting a new message from a government task force: wait until you’re 50 unless you have high risk factors.

    Vicky Cooke is a breast cancer survivor who received her diagnosis at age 44 after discovering a lump during a self exam.

    She’s also the executive director at the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition in Wilmington.

    “We’re in the position where we understand the science of this and understand how the statistics are put together,” Vicky Cooke, executive director of the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, said. “However without an alternative to mammography we’re in a bit of dilemma ourselves on how to address this ourselves.”

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    The fact that the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition is a member of the National Breast Cancer Coalition which supports the new guidelines issued by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, puts the Delaware chapter in a tough spot.  Cooke says she’s been getting calls all day from survivors who question the new guidelines.  Many of them believe the former ones saved their lives.

    “What we do as an agency is try to provide women with all the information.  So, this is information, it’s out there so it’s going to be up to the women to decide what guidelines they want to follow. And I think that’s important for women to be empowered with all knowledge and all information so they can make the best decision for themselves.”

    One thing that hasn’t changed is the statistic that one in eight women will get breast cancer.

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