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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose wife is a breast cancer survivor, spoke out today against new federal guidelines that recommend women have fewer mammograms.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in November said routine mammograms for women in their 40s is unnecessary. It suggested that women get mammograms every other year after age 50.
LaBonge sides with the American Cancer Society, which recommends mammograms once a year starting at age 40, and at age 25 if the woman is at high risk of developing breast cancer.
``A mammogram saved my wife, Brigid, the mother of my children,'' LaBonge said. ``It is absolutely imperative that women get annual screenings.''
Brigid LaBonge called herself a ``poster child'' for getting mammograms earlier than recommended.
``When I was 43, I suggested to doctors that I wanted a mammogram, but they said no because I wasn't 50 yet,'' she said. ``Three years later, I had a bad feeling about my body. I went in and I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.''
Brigid LaBonge said she underwent a mastectomy, four months of chemotherapy, one and half months of radiation, and recently finished breast reconstruction surgery.
``This has had such an impact on our family,'' she said.
Dr. Christy Russell, an oncologist at USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, said studies show mammograms reduce cancer deaths among 40-50 year old women by 15 percent.
``The new federal guidelines are so dangerous,'' Russell said. ``We've made such strides in convincing women to get screened and if we ever reverse that, I don't think we'll ever get it back again.''
``Mammograms are the only screening tests that prevent deaths from breast cancer,'' Russell added. ``The cost to California will be much greater to treat women with advanced cancer than to screen them and find cancer in its pre-invasive stage.''