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Don’t Delay Your Mammogram

Posted on August 31, 2020

Did you delay your annual mammogram during the COVID-19 crisis?

If so, it’s time to reschedule your mammogram. October is breast cancer awareness month and breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, behind skin cancer. 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. The American College of Radiology recommends annual mammograms for women over the age of 40. Mammograms can help find breast cancer early, before symptoms appear. And, earlier detection can result in more successful treatment, before cancer cells have a chance to spread.

Digital and 3D mammography

If you delayed your mammogram earlier this year, we’re here to help with digital mammography, breast MRI, and breast ultrasound. And most of our breast centers offer 3D mammography, which allows our radiologists to better detect smaller cancers – even with dense breast tissue.

Is it Time for Your Mammogram?  

When was the last time you had a mammogram?

A mammogram is a test that takes an X-ray of each breast from two different angles. It allows radiologists to look for signs of breast cancer in women who don’t have any breast problems or symptoms.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that women with an average risk and a high risk of developing breast cancer should have regular mammograms once a year.That way, breast cancer can be found early and treated successfully, improving your odds of surviving.

Recommended Mammogram Schedule for Women with Average Risk 

Your risk for breast cancer is average if you:

  •  Have never had breast cancer before

  • Do not have a strong family history of breast cancer

  • Do not have a genetic mutation known to increase the risk for breast cancer, such as a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation

  • Have not had chest radiation therapy before the age of 30

How often do I need to be screened for breast cancer?

The American Cancer Society recommends the following cancer screening guidelines for most adults. Screening tests are used to find cancer before a person has any symptoms.

  • Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) if they wish to do so
  • Women ages 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year
  • Women ages 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening
  • Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 years or longer
  • All women should be familiar with the known benefits, limitations and potential harms linked to breast cancer screening

Recommended Mammogram Schedule for Women with High Risk

Your breast cancer risk is high if:

  • A genetic test found that you have a genetic mutation known to increase the risk for breast cancer, such as a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation

  • Your parent, sibling, or child had breast cancer with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation and you have not had a genetic test

  • Your doctor calculates that your lifetime risk for breast cancer is about 20 to 25 percent or more, based on your family history

  • You had chest radiation therapy between the ages of 10 and 30

If you have a high risk for breast cancer, you should have a mammogram annually starting at the age of 30, the ACS recommends. You should also receive a breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test every year. A breast MRI allows radiologists to see more detail.

Breast cancer screening recommendations vary among different organizations, so be sure to talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of screening to determine your ideal screening schedule.

Reduce Your Risk Factors

There are several factors that increase your breast cancer risk.

Risk factors you can’t change include:

  • Getting older

  • Being a woman

  • Having a family history of breast cancer

  • Starting your period at an early age

  • Late menopause after the age of 55

But here’s the good news: There are steps you can take to lower your risk for breast cancer. Take charge of your health and reduce your chances of developing breast cancer by: 

  • Avoiding alcohol or limiting drinks to no more than one per day

  • Keeping a healthy weight

  • Exercising regularly

  • Breastfeeding any children you may have, if possible

  • Asking your doctor about the risks of birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy and finding out if either are right for you

To schedule your mammogram, call us at (865) 374-4000 or request your appointment online.

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