Diary

Breast practices

The conservative blogosphere has been abuzz about Carly Fiorina’s hard-hitting GOP weekly radio address criticizing mammography guidelines.   I do agree that the guidelines (mammograms not necessary for women before 50 years old) were prompted by a political desire to cut healthcare costs, which is no way to decide procedures.  Fiorina, running in the California Republican primary for a chance to unseat Senator Boxer, has the authority of a recent breast cancer survivor.  The topic and the timing are good for her.

However, a mammogram did not detect, by her own admission, Fiorina’s cancer.

“I discovered my own lump two weeks after receiving a clear mammogram. So had I not been in the habit of self-examination, I doubt I would have found it.”

I also recall when Laura Ingraham had breast cancer that a lump was discovered through examination.

“Laura’s breast cancer was picked up during a simple breast examination by her OB/GYN. . . . The tumor was not even visible on a mammogram!”

Now, I’m sure that flattening a woman’s breast every two years to perform an x-ray (which can cause cancer after overexposure) is a reasonable medical decision, but I would appreciate a little perspective.  Conservatives are quick to jump on the Mammogram Bandwagon because a fight against healthcare rationing is essential.  In the process, though, let’s not sing Hallelujah too loudly to the Church of Medicine.  Doctors are not God and their recommendations should be considered rationally and not just on faith.  Shame on Fiorina, who owes her survival to her own diligence, for reinforcing the medical establishment’s talking points.  Healthcare is so expensive, in one part, because patients will trust a doctor over their own common sense.  A slight fever and they’re off to the emergency room.  Fiorina took a great opportunity to discuss the folly of Obamacare’s public option, but she has so far missed the chance to discuss the fact that personal responsibility in our healthcare is the only way to ensure lower costs and higher availability.

Cross-posted at thefilthybeast.com