The Gift of a Lifetime
Getting a Mammogram Can Give You the Gift of a Lifetime
The most important piece of information women need to know about mammography is that it is the single most powerful tool to detect breast cancer early, and the earlier the detection, the wider a woman's options are for treatment. Get a mammogram when you need one and give yourself the gift of a lifetime.
Mammography is particularly important because it can detect breast cancers too small to be felt by physical examination. Research has shown that routine mammography detects 40% of cancers not found on physical examination, thus reducing the death rate from breast cancer by 30%.
Medical experts agree that mammography screening done at regular intervals, together with clinical breast exams, and monthly breast self-examination are the three techniques that provide the best means of protection against breast cancer.
The importance of self-examination and examination by a health care provider should not be minimized. In about 10-15% of women, breast cancer is found solely on the basis of physical examination, and would not be detected by a mammogram. Therefore, any breast lump needs further evaluation, no matter what a mammogram shows.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a program dedicated to educating women about breast cancer and the importance of early detection. Again this year, a highlight of the program is National Mammography Day, (October 19), a day when women will be encouraged to get a mammogram.
- Every woman is at risk for breast cancer, no matter her age, family history, or current health.
- Seventy-five percent of women who are diagnosed with the disease have none of the commonly known risk factors.
As a woman ages, her chances of developing breast cancer increases, therefore mammograms are especially important for older women.
Medical experts agree that all women age 50 and older need to receive regularly scheduled mammograms. An annual screening is the usual recommendation.
For women ages 40 to 49, receive a mammogram every 1-2 years or at intervals your health care provider decides is best for you based on your medical history.
Source: Janet R. Osuch, MD, American Medical Women’s Association