Breast cancer remains a very real threat for women across the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that breast cancer is the number one cancer in women, despite ethnicity; the number one cause of death by cancer for Hispanic women; and the second-highest cause of death by cancer in women of different ethnicities. Mammograms are a tool to detect breast cancer.
Because of these harsh statistics, a detailed screening protocol is in place that most doctors recommend for women starting at age 40, although various organizations have different recommendations and findings. Once a woman turns 40 years old, annual screenings help to catch breast cancer and give time for treatment. The American Cancer Society recommends optional screenings starting at age 40 to 44, then annual screenings from age 45 to 54. Once you turn 55, they recommend switching to mammograms every two years or to continue annually.
In some cases, breast cancer will remain confined to the breast tissue; unfortunately, however, breast cancer may be a type of cancer that spreads outside of the breast tissue to other areas of the body. Being able to catch the cancer cells earlier than later allows for a greater range of treatment and, when all goes to plan, removing the cancer completely.
What is a Mammogram?
A mammogram is a specific type of X-ray to examine the breast tissue. The doctor takes four images: two of each breast. Yes, the mammogram may be a little uncomfortable, but imperative for detection nonetheless.
Some women are at higher risk for breast cancer and should start their screenings earlier than age 40. Women with a family history of breast cancer — particularly early-onset breast cancer, women with a family history for particular genetic mutations, and women of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry may begin their screenings younger than 40 to help prevent this common disease from progressing. Unfortunately, breast cancer can be more difficult to detect in younger women as the breast tissue is more denser. However, despite more difficulty in detection, it is imperative for women with greater risk to start their mammogram screenings earlier than age 40 as evidence exists breast cancer in younger women may be much more aggressive.
Speak with your doctor at your women’s center to discuss your options regarding detection and early detection. You and your doctor will find the best course of action and time intervals regarding breast cancer screenings.
Connect with Seven Oaks Women’s Center for your mammogram needs.