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. Mammography is an important tool for detecting breast cancer early on, when it’s easiest to treat. According to the American Cancer Society, screening mammograms can reduce breast cancer deaths by approximately 20% to 40%.
The benefits and limitations of mammography vary based on factors like age and personal risk. Experts have different recommendations for mammography. Currently, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening every 2 years for women ages 50 to 74. The American Cancer Society recommends a mammogram yearly for all women ages 45 to 54, and every year or every other year for women ages 55 and older.
Women should talk with their doctors about their personal risk factors before making a decision about when to start getting mammograms or how often they should get them.
Reducing breast cancer deaths
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of U.S. women ages 40 and older who are getting regular mammograms has been slowly declining since 2005. Still, fewer women in the U.S. are dying from breast cancer. However, researchers are not sure whether this decline is due to screening or better treatments.
Unfortunately, some women are still not getting their mammograms. For instance, in 2018, 70% of uninsured women—and 36% of women who do have insurance—fell behind on breast cancer screenings.
Beating breast cancer
One thing is clear: If we are going to win the battle against breast cancer, women must be screened.
Women need to be encouraged to follow their doctor’s advice to get regular screenings. You can do your part, too. Remind the women you know and love about the importance of regular mammograms—it just might save their life.
To schedule your mammogram, call us at (865) 374-4000 or request your appointment online.
Visit morristownhamblen.com/breastcenter to learn more about our services.