Ensuring continued breast health and preventing breast cancer always rank high on our list of priorities at New River Women’s Health. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we want to encourage you to come in for your well-woman exam, which includes a breast exam. Your well-woman exam is also the perfect time to request a review of the most thorough breast self-exam technique so that you can detect any abnormalities yourself between professional exams.
The American Cancer Society currently recommends that women with an average risk for breast cancer start mammography at age 40, and begin scheduling mammograms annually at age 45. Women with a familial history of the condition may start have mammograms as early as age 30; and, of course, earlier if they are symptomatic.
Do mammograms truly save lives? Oh, yes.
A few key statistics argue convincingly that this screening test for the early detection of breast cancer saves lives:
- According to the American College of Radiology, mammography has reduced the mortality caused by breast cancer by one-third since 1990.
- Mammograms detect breast tumors early, while they can still be effectively treated. A mammogram typically detects changes in breast tissue two years before any symptoms can be felt.
- Most women diagnosed with breast cancer through mammography have had no known family history of the condition. Without mammography, these women might not have received a diagnosis of breast cancer until their chance for effective treatment had been severely compromised.
- Survival rates for treating breast cancer in the less-advanced stages (zero, one, and two) range from 92 to 100 percent. Survival rates for stage three and four breast cancer are only 72 and 22 percent, respectively. The earlier breast cancer is detected, the better your or your loved one’s chances of surviving it.
The hardest part of having a mammogram is remembering to schedule it. While mammography can be briefly uncomfortable, the procedure is quick, minimally invasive, and can save your life. Mammography technicians are trained to put you at ease, respect your privacy, and get you in and out efficiently so you can get on with your day. Typically, a radiologist reviews your results quickly so that you and your doctor receive them as soon as possible.
Annual mammograms, monthly breast self-exams, and an annual gynecological exam are a win-win: this October and always. If you have further questions about mammography, or are unsure whether you need to schedule an annual breast cancer screening, please contact New River Women’s Health and schedule your well-woman appointment online.