Mammograms For Dying Patients?

You read that right. A recently conducted poll found that 48 percent of doctors would recommend a screening mammogram to a woman with terminal lung cancer!

That’s despite the fact that the average life expectancy with the disease is about 10 months. What’s more, if breast cancer was found in a woman with terminal lung cancer, she would probably not be eligible for treatment.

“We found it very surprising and concerning that so many doctors would recommend screening,” said lead researcher Corinne R. Leach, of the American Cancer Society (ACS) in Atlanta.

“If a woman is not eligible for treatment, it doesn’t make sense to screen,” she noted in an interview.

So why would so many doctors recommend mammography screening to terminally ill women?

That’s still not clear, according to Leach. One possibility is that uncertainty over mammography screening guidelines has something to do with it.

Those guidelines differ depending on the source. Guidelines from the ACS, for example, say that women at average risk of breast cancer should start yearly mammograms at age 40, and continue doing so as long as they are in “good health.”

Very vague.

Another possibility is that the physician fears being sued if he failed to diagnose a tumor. In our overly litigious society, this is a real fear.

The third possibility, which I personally favor, is that the provider gets paid to perform the procedure, especially if the patient is on Medicare. No questions asked.

I am reminded when my mother-in-law, who was dying of metastatic colon cancer, was given a flu shot by her primary care doctor. Was he really worried that she would get the flu? I don’t think so. I believe he did it because Medicare paid for it.

If we want to have access to affordable healthcare, we must be more involved with our care. Get smart, people! Stop wasting money!


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