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Music and Mammograms

Updated: Jun 27, 2023


Greetings! Summer has arrived, albeit not officially for another week. Spoleto is in full swing, and so are the summer thunderstorms. I have seen some wicked lightning! Students have graduated, and sadly, the Charleston area graduations held at the Coliseum were not immune to the epidemic of gun violence sweeping the country. The gun violence and crime are really out of control. In May, when I was driving back to Charleston from Gainesville after watching one of Sophie's matches, I was re-routed off of Highway 17. I assumed it was due to a traffic accident. It was not until I arrived back at the office on Monday that Kelly told me it was actually due to a routine traffic stop that turned deadly when the passenger opened fire on the police officer. Shocking. And this violence definitely tarnishes our wonderful community with its natural beauty, wonderful beaches, and vibrant culture...there seems to be a total disconnect.


Changing topics, there also seems to be a disconnect between recent recommendations on breast cancer screening. In May, guidelines were released for mammogram screening by the U.S Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) which lowered the age of mammogram screening to 40, with bi-annual screening until age 50, whereas in 2009 it had released guidelines that mammograms should be undertaken at age 50. This age-50 recommendation was made based on theories that younger women were being exposed to unnecessary additional interventions and treatments and that the number of cancers being diagnosed in women under age 50 did not justify the expense of this additional screening. The recommendations by USPSTF differ from the American Cancer Society as well as the American College of Radiology, which recommends yearly mammogram screening starting at age 40, with additional and earlier screening, ie with MRI and ultrasound testing, in higher risk groups, such as those carrying the BRCA genes or other genetic mutations (Breast Cancer Screening for Women at Higher-Than-Average Risk: Updated Recommendations From the ACR). There is a worthwhile opinion piece in the New York Times, and I agree with the author's sentiments. While I don't want to see patients undergo unnecessary interventions such as biopsies for benign lesions, this is a better alternative than watching your patient undergo aggressive surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation for cancers diagnosed at a later stage in the disease process. Here is the link for the OpEd. Hopefully, these recommendations will become more standardized across these medical organizations as we learn more about breast cancer and its various subtypes. In the meantime, I do think it is important to help calculate your lifetime breast cancer risk (based on factors such as age, family history, and genetics) in consultation with your primary care physician, OBGYN, or general surgeon to help determine the optimal age to begin your breast cancer screening. In fact, the American College of Radiology advises women to have this risk calculated by age 25, and there are models used by physicians to help calculate this risk.


As I pivot again, I want to make a little mention of the summer sun. Sun protection is key, and yes, I need to practice what I preach since I got too much sun this weekend! A suntan or sun exposure also precludes such treatments as laser services, but other procedures can still possibly be performed over the summer, such as micro-needling. Micro-needling is a great way to stimulate collagen synthesis and refresh your skin. So for the remainder of June, we are offering a buy two get one free micro-needling special! Enjoy!


As I sign off for the week, I want to leave you with a little tribute to Spoleto. Piccolo Spoleto concluded at Hampton Park with a performance by a Pink Floyd cover band. I heard it was excellent. So in honor of the event, here's one of my Pink Floyd favorites.


Have a great week,


Heidi Williams



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