BLOGS from St. Anthony
Along with autumn leaves and cooler weather comes Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. As you learn more about breast cancer, monitor your own breast health with a mammogram. Mammograms are a low dose x-ray that allows radiologists to look for changes in breast tissue that may not be normal. Mammography saves lives by detecting cancer long before changes in the breast can be felt and when it is most treatable.
When Should I Start Mammograms?
As research in breast cancer advances, medical opinions have changed about when women should have their first mammography. The American Cancer Society published the current guidelines below:
- Women 40 - 44 should schedule a baseline mammogram
- Women 45 - 54 should get mammograms every year.
- Women 55 and older may now change to mammograms every 2 years or can continue yearly screening. The American College of Radiology, the Society of Breast Imaging, and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommend yearly mammograms.
- Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10+ years.
Though these timelines are a great general guide, women considered at “high risk” because of family history, a breast condition, or another reason should begin screening earlier and more often. In addition, all women, no matter what age you are, should let your doctor know about any change to your breasts.
Medical research has made it possible to create innovative and advanced tools to see early signs of cancer in new ways, such as using 3D mammograms. 3D mammograms are imaging tests that combine multiple x-rays to create a 3D image of a breast. While they are becoming more common, 3D mammograms are not yet available at all medical facilities. Combining a 3D mammogram with a standard mammogram has a variety of benefits such as:
- Reducing the need for follow-up imaging. When abnormalities on standard mammogram images are detected, doctors may recommend additional imaging. Being called back for additional imaging can be stressful and can lead to additional costs.
- Detecting breast cancer in people with dense breast tissue. 3D images allow doctors to see beyond areas of density by providing images of the breast in “slices”.
Importance of Self-Exams
Even if you aren’t receiving a mammogram, regular breast self-exams help increase your awareness of the normal look and feel of your breasts. By becoming more aware, you can more easily determine whether there have been any changes to your breasts. While this is not the most effective means of detecting cancer, doctors believe there is value in self-exams so that women can promptly report any changes, schedule a mammogram, and consult with a doctor immediately. Please note that cancer is just one condition that may cause changes in your breasts, and any changes may not be a cause for panic!
To schedule your mammogram, call St. Anthony Radiology at (712) 794-5202.
St. Anthony Regional Hospital (Carroll, IA) is dedicated to improving the health of the people we serve. We believe in providing high quality, healthcare services responsive to the needs of our patients. For more information, visit our website or call us at 712-792-3581. Follow us on Facebook!
- breast cancer
- cancer center