In February, Martina Navratilova was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ, the most common form of breast cancer. She has since had a lumpectomy and says she’s doing well and doesn’t expect the cancer to return. But in an interview with Good Morning America during which she announced her diagnosis and surgery, the tennis star stepped beyond the world of sport and into the world of medicine. And there she made the sort of missteps she’s known for avoiding on the court.
“The reason I wanted to speak about this is to encourage these woman to have mammograms,” (Navratilova) said. “I just want to encourage women to have that yearly check-up.”
Navratilova said she doesn’t agree with recent recommendations that women between the ages of 40 and 49 should not necessarily get regular breast cancer screenings.
“The cancer knows that you’re not 50 yet?” she said. “I can’t speak for the doctors, but in my personal case I’m so glad that I did it.”
In her blog “A Healthy Piece of My Mind,” writer and PR rep Eve Harris pointed out the fallacies lurking in the tennis star’s screening recommendations, beyond the obvious age-related concerns.
First, Harris said, Navratilova exhorts women to scrape together the money to pay for screenings, yet doesn’t mention the many programs available to help uninsured and underinsured women pay for mammograms.
Second, Navratilova claims that she was lucky, and would have been in serious trouble had she not detected the cancer when she did. In fact, Harris writes, there is not enough information about the natural progression of such cancers to make that declaration.
GMA correspondent Robin Roberts, who also has battled breast cancer, failed to point out any of that and, in fact, offered a very simplified interpretation of what the new breast cancer screening recommendations say.
(Hat tip to @lauranewmanny)