Breast cancer survivors criticize mammogram rule

Posted at 6:52 PM, Jan 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-13 11:03:11-05

SAN DIEGO -- A federal panel is now recommending women get biennial mammograms starting at age 50.

However, a retired San Diego Deputy Fire Chief is throwing cold water on that idea. Lorraine Hutchinson battled flames for 25 years, but she says battling breast cancer was harder.

“Because that was a thing [where] I could lose my life,” she said. Hutchinson now works at Susan G. Komen San Diego and encourages women to start yearly mammograms at age 40. 

"If I had waited until 50, I wouldn't be here,” she said.

Hutchinson’s colleague, Annie Eddey, worries the new guidelines will force local women to jump through hoops in order to get screened for breast cancer. She’s particularly worried about African-American women in San Diego who she says “are diagnosed less often, but are dying at a 41 percent higher rate.”

But the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force is recommending that women start getting screened at age 50, providing they don’t have a family history of breast cancer. The group’s website says, “While screening mammography in women aged 40 to 49 years may reduce the risk for breast cancer death, the number of deaths averted is smaller than that in older women and the number of false-positive results and unnecessary biopsies is larger.”

Local Susan G. Komen employees called the new guidelines “frustrating” and “disappointing.”