Breast Cancer Survivor Receives Inspiration Award, Talks About New Screening Guidelines
Christine Skivington was honored at Wilmot Cancer Institute’s annual Discovery Ball on May 6, 2023, for her inspiring story. She is the mother of three small children who faced an aggressive type of breast cancer during the pandemic, and was treated at Wilmot’s Comprehensive Breast Center.
“Cancer didn’t define me, it refined me,” Skivington said. “For my kids, I tried to turn it from doom and gloom to something positive. I hope when they grow up, that’s what they remember.”
Skivington, 38, is married and lives in Chili. Her mother and mother-in-law had each been diagnosed with breast cancer in previous years; Skivington proactively began breast cancer screening in her 30s. Doctors discovered that she had dense breast tissue — which increases the risk of cancer — and so she also received screening ultrasounds in addition to mammograms. Skivington was diagnosed with early stage triple-negative invasive cancer at age 37 in October of 2021. Following surgery and chemotherapy, she was cancer-free in May of 2022.
Breast cancer screening has been in the news lately. An expert panel changed its recommendation on screening for most women from age 50 to 40, in part due to a rise in cases among younger people.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said that “all women get screened for breast cancer every other year starting at age 40 to reduce their risk of dying from this disease.” Data show that Black women are more likely to die of breast cancer and the new guidelines are also meant to address that disparity.
The American College of Radiology (ACR) differs with the U.S. Task Force, and on May 4, 2023, issued its own recommendation that all women — particularly Black and higher-risk Ashkenazi Jewish people — at age 25 begin having conversations with their doctor about getting screened. Some radiologists also disagree with the “every other year” suggestion by the U.S. Task Force.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women, but is highly treatable when caught early.
Skivington — who believes earlier screening is warranted because it saved her life — and Jennifer Harvey, M.D., chair of Imaging Sciences at the University of Rochester Medical Center, talked to local media about the new guidelines. (See links to the side.)