Breast Cancer Awareness Month: The Importance of Starting Mammograms at 40
During the month of October, the nation comes together to educate and spread awareness about breast cancer. It’s a time to promote the importance of mammograms, early detection, prevention and research. Studies show one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, making it one of the most common cancers among women. With breast cancer being so common, it is crucial women understand the importance of starting mammograms at age 40.
What is a Mammogram?
A mammogram is an X-ray picture of your breast used to check for early signs of breast cancer. Images from a mammogram can detect breast cancer much earlier than a physical breast exam. At your appointment, you will stand in front of an X-ray machine and a technologist will place your breast on a plastic plate. Another plate firmly presses your breast from above, flattening the breast and holding it still while the X-ray is being taken. You will feel some pressure, but it is not painful.
The Southwoods Center for Breast Health offers the most technologically advanced, comprehensive breast health services in the area. Southwoods’ advanced 3D Mammography (tomosynthesis) significantly increases the detection of breast cancer and offers more comfortable testing, faster scan times and less radiation exposure. This technology combined with our compassionate care makes Southwoods the number one choice for breast health.
When should I get a Mammogram?
Women 40 and older should have a screening mammogram annually. Early screening can significantly lower your risk of dying from breast cancer, and early detection can give you more options for treatment if diagnosed. According to the American Cancer Society, more than half a million breast cancer deaths have been prevented in the United States since 1989 because of these testing measures. If you are unsure when to begin screenings or are concerned you may be at risk, talk to your healthcare provider about the best screening plan for you.
Screening vs. Diagnostic Mammogram
Screening tests (yearly mammograms) are given routinely to people who appear to be healthy and are not suspected of having breast cancer. The goal of a screening mammogram is to find breast cancer early, before any symptoms can develop and the cancer is easier to treat.
Diagnostic tests (such as breast MRI, ultrasound or elastography) are given to people who are suspected of having breast cancer, either because of symptoms they may be experiencing or a screening test result. Diagnostic tests are used to determine whether or not breast cancer is present and, if so, whether or not it has traveled outside the breast. They can also be used to determine the course of treatment and gather more information about the cancer.
It’s important to remember regular medical screenings are the most effective way to detect various forms of cancer early in their development. Early detection is the best form of protection. In early stages, treatment is likely to be most effective and recovery a more probable outcome.
If it’s been over 12 months since your last mammogram, call the Southwoods Center for Breast Health at 330-965-5100 to schedule your appointment today.