Have you delayed your mammogram or do you know someone who has? You are not alone. According to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention study, U.S. women are getting mammograms at declining rates. While awareness about breast disease remains high, fewer women nationwide are getting routine screenings.
As a physician and radiologist, this concerns me. The evidence supporting mammography is clear. Mammograms save lives. It is one of the major health care advances of our time. Since the onset of regular mammography screening of women ages 40 and older, the death rate from advanced breast cancer has decreased by 30 percent since 1990.
Most abnormalities found early have the best chance for effective treatment. Early detection can provide the least debilitating and invasive form of treatment – potentially avoiding a mastectomy or chemotherapy – to help preserve a woman’s quality of life. When breast cancer is detected early, it often can be treated before it has a chance to spread in the body and increase the risk of dying from the disease.
The mammography experts at Grant Medical Center share the opinions of the American Cancer Society, American College of Radiology and Society of Breast Imaging. We recommend that women:
- Get an annual mammogram and a clinical breast exam by a doctor beginning at age 40.
- Consult with your doctor about more frequent and/or earlier screening if you are at a higher risk for breast cancer.
- Talk to your doctor about the screening that is right for your individual needs.
- Continue to do breast self examinations.
Technological advancements have made many improvements in women’s healthcare. In addition to the conventional mammogram, advanced imaging options are available to aid in diagnoses and treatment, while also minimizing exposure to radiation. The detail available with the new state-of-the-art technology is very promising for improved diagnoses, assessment of the local extent of the disease, guidance of biopsy and evaluation of treatment response. At Fairfield Medical Center, these services are available in a newly designed mammography suite, which offers a warm and caring environment for varying mammography needs.
Having sophisticated technology and skilled radiologists is just part of the equation though. Women need to be vigilant. Mammograms are of greatest value when done regularly, so physicians can compare changes that occur over time. So take charge. Manage your health as well as you manage other parts of your life. Schedule an annual mammogram appointment. Continue doing monthly self breast examinations and follow your instincts. Always contact your physician if you have questions or concerns.