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The importance of breast cancer screenings

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Finding breast cancer early can increase your chance of beating the most common cancer women fact. Although breast cancer can occur at any age, it’s more likely to happen after age 40, with odds of a diagnosis increasing after that. That’s why these tips from the American Cancer Society are so crucial.

If you’re 40 or older

  • Since mammograms show early breast cancer before a breast exam can, get a mammogram every year for as long as you’re in good healthy.
  • Have a nurse or doctor perform a breast exam every year.
  • Report any changes from self-exams to your doctor immediately.

If you’re age 20 to 39

  • Have a nurse or doctor perform a breast exam at least every three years
  • Report any changes from self-exams to your doctor immediately

If you have a family history of breast cancer, it’s possible that you may need to have an MRI in addition to a mammogram. Talk to your doctor about what age is appropriate for you to do this.

Although mammograms are so vital to women's health, there are numerous concerns surround them. Here we'll address a few of them:

Should I be concerned even if nobody in my family has had breast cancer?

Yes. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 8 out of every 10 breast cancers occur in women who do not have a family history of invasive breast cancer.

There’s nothing I can do if I’m going to get breast cancer.

False. The earlier you find breast cancer, the better your odds are for beating it. A mammogram can find breast cancer earlier than a self-exam or an exam from your doctor.

Is the radiation in the x-rays from the mammograms dangerous?

The quality of equipment has improved to the point that the level of radiation used for a mammogram is almost harmless.

Are mammograms embarrassing?

There is a trained technologist who will help you correctly position your breast on a plastic plate for the mammogram. These technologist are professionals; there’s no need to feel embarrassed. Doing this could save your life.

Do mammograms hurt?

During a mammogram, a piece of plastic is placed on top of your breast as well. This flattens your breast to get the best picture possible. Some say it hurts; others say it doesn’t. Again, what’s important is that this could save your life.

I’m afraid of my mammogram telling me I have breast cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, only 2 to 4 in every 1,000 mammograms will lead to a diagnosis. More than 80% of lumps or suspicious areas will not be cancer.

If I haven’t gotten a mammogram yet, why should I?

As you get older, your risk of getting breast cancer increase. Two out of 3 breast cancers will be diagnosed in women 55 years of age or older.

Source: The American Cancer Society

Other information:

Nutrition and Breast Cancer Physical Activity and Breast Cancer Weight Management and Breast Cancer Breast Cancer Awareness Month Homepage