February is National Cancer Prevention Month! Have you had your Mammogram yet?

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If you’re confused about when to begin getting mammograms, you’re not alone. I know that personally I have been quite confused by this especially when my OBGYN and my General Practitioner have told me different things.  In recent years, there’s been a great deal of debate in the medical community over when women should begin routine mammograms, as well as the appropriate screening test.

  • In 2015 the recommended guidelines not only changed again, but differed depending on the organization. Susan. G. Komen recently created a graph to help outline the differing guidelines:

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  • David Boyd, Director of Wellness, Prevention and Primary Care at Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Western Regional Medical Center notes, “There are a number of factors that go into deciding when a woman should start screening for breast cancer, including family history and current lifestyle choices. However, it is critical that these conversations start happening so that women can be armed with the information they need to live a healthy lifestyle that may prevent cancer or take steps that might catch it in an early stage.
    • It is also critical to understand the types of screening tests available and how and when to choose the right one.
      • Physical Exam: Annual exam is recommended by most physicians. Speak with yours.
      • Mammogram: Typically done between the ages of 40-74, perhaps sooner based on personal and family history. 3D mammography is a new screening and diagnostic breast imaging tool to improve the early detection of breast cancer. This highly sensitive imaging tool provides individual images of thin layers of breast tissue, which produce much clearer images as compared to two-dimensional (2D) mammography.
      • Needle Aspiration: Also known as a fine needle aspiration, a way of obtaining tissue for biopsy if needed.
        • Biopsy: Usually a wider needle to obtain more tissue. “Tissue is the issue” to make a diagnosis!
        • Below is a graph that shows the general process of testing if a lump is found:

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Here are some additional facts that are important and helpful to know:

  • According to ACS, approximately 90 percent of women who are 40 and older and find and treat their breast cancer are cancer-free after five years.
  • Women who have a mother, sister or daughter who have or have had breast cancer are almost twice as likely to develop the disease.
  • There are several risk factors for breast cancer. Be sure to discuss your risks for the disease with your doctor. If you are under 50, ask your doctor when you should start to have mammograms.
  • Women who are at high risk for developing breast cancer should come up with a comprehensive cancer screening plan with their doctor. For example, women who have a family history of breast cancer should discuss having a genetic test to determine if they have mutations to their BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, which increase their risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer.

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For more information, go here.

Don’t forget to schedule your Mammogram! It truly is an important thing that we should do!

Self Disclosure: I received compensation for this post as part of a promotional program with Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) and MomSelect.  Information and infograhics were provided by CTAC and MomSelect. Any opinions expressed are my own.

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