Excuses are easy, but so is the decision to get your yearly mammogram.
They can seem scary, but mammograms are a quick, easy and accurate way to screen for breast cancer. They are only mildly uncomfortable and take a few minutes of your time. What’s more, with many clinics now offering weekend and evening hours, it’s easier than ever to fit a mammogram into your busy schedule.
If that isn’t enough to convince you, the scientific evidence will. A yearly mammogram is still the best way the medical community has to prevent death from breast cancer. According to the American College of Radiology, mammograms have helped reduce breast cancer-related deaths by one-third since 1990.
Though experts are divided on when and how often to get screened, most agree that yearly mammograms beginning at age 40 save lives. In fact, a recent Harvard Medical School study of more than 7,000 women with breast cancer showed that the majority of breast cancer-related deaths happened among women who had not been screened. Further, more than half of the women who died from their cancer were under the age of fifty, suggesting the need for earlier screening.
The American Cancer Society also advises that women begin yearly mammograms at age 40. Those with a family history of breast cancer should speak with their physician about personalized screening plans. However, it is important to remember that 75 percent of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease.
In addition to regular mammograms, we also recommend that women perform monthly self-breast exams. Knowing how your breast tissue feels, and being able to recognize anything unusual, is very important. Be honest with your health care provider about any breast changes or related concerns. If necessary, you may be referred to a breast specialist. If you feel uneasy talking with your provider about this subject, find one you feel comfortable with.
General cancer prevention is also part of the battle. It is important to eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise and avoid overuse of alcohol. An unhealthy lifestyle has been associated with an increase in all types of cancers.
We believe in mammograms because we have witnessed their ability to save lives. We urge our female family members to get regular screenings, and we encourage you to do the same. Mammograms are so important to us that our organization founded the Bra-ha-ha® to provide free mammograms to underserved women. We believe no matter what your circumstance, there is no excuse to skip your yearly mammogram.
Click here to schedule your yearly mammogram.
Dr. Michael Petruschak is a breast imaging radiologist who practices with Chesapeake Radiologists, Ltd. He works with the Chesapeake Regional Breast Center, a full-service breast clinic offering dedicated on-site all-digital mammography, same-day breast biopsy and the latest in breast cancer care. The center also offers a Breast Care Coordinator who serves as a patient advocate and care manager. Patients with any questions about their breast health can call 757-312-2232. To learn more about the Bra-ha-ha, visit www.brahaha.org.