What You Can’t See, Can Hurt You
Regular mammograms are the best defense against breast cancer.
About one in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, and nearly 85% of breast cancer diagnoses occur in women with no family history of the disease.
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women, and in 2021, it’s estimated that around 30% of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancers. Also this year, an estimated 43,600 women nationally are expected to die from the disease. Yet even with such alarming statistics, many women delay—or avoid entirely—regular mammogram screenings that could protect their health and save their lives.
Mammograms are imaging tests used to screen for breast cancer and in short, they are women’s best defense to detect breast cancer early. 63% of breast cancer cases are diagnosed before they spread, thanks largely to mammography and in these instances, there is a 99% survival rate. While the threat is very real, early detection means there is a greater likelihood to beat breast cancer, and an increased probability that the treatment used to fight cancer will be less radical and painful.
Life begins at age 40—so do mammograms
The American Cancer Society recommends women start getting mammogram screenings at age 40, with yearly mammograms ages 45 to 55. After age 55, women may switch to having the screening every two years or continue getting mammograms annually. Talk to your provider at regular wellness exams to determine what is right for you. If you have a history of breast cancer in your family, tell your primary care provider; he or she may recommend you start routine mammograms at a younger age.
It’s easier than many expect
The test is simple. During a mammogram, the breasts are gently compressed, one at a time, so the mammographer technician can capture clear, accurate x-ray images that would show indications of cancer or other concerns. During the short process, you will need to change positions from time to time, and while the pressure is uncomfortable for some, many have no issues at all. Even for those who are a bit more sensitive, technicians are very accommodating, understanding and frankly, really good at their jobs. They use techniques to customize the process so women of all shapes, sizes and comfort levels—both physical and psychological—can get the important imaging necessary to protect their health.
Approximately 20 minutes and you’re done
While mammograms aren’t often at the top of people’s favorites lists, the screening doesn’t take long and is practically over before it begins. A mammogram usually takes about 20 minutes—a small time investment to protect something as valuable as your health—and maybe even your life.
Early detection can win the race against cancer
While the statistics and seriousness of cancer diagnoses are rather overwhelming, there is encouraging news. The overall death rate from breast cancer has decreased by 1% per year from 2013 to 2018. This decline is very optimistic and is thought to be a direct correlation to both the advancements of treatments and earlier detection of cancers through mammogram screenings.
- If you’ve already blown out 40 candles – or more – on your birthday cake, give yourself an important gift: Schedule your annual mammogram. Early detection is critical to beat against breast cancer. Please visit our calendar to see when our healthcare providers are available to see patients.