Why are mammograms so important?
Women have heard for years that when you reach the age of 40, you need to start getting a mammogram. Many women, though, may not have heard the “why” behind that mantra – mammograms save lives.
“Although mammograms are not a perfect test, women with breast cancer found on a screening mammogram have a much lower chance of dying from breast cancer than women who wait until they feel their cancer. This is particularly true for women 50 and over,” said surgical oncologist Wendy Cornett, MD.
But what about women age 40–49?
A mammogram can show changes in the breast years before a doctor or patient can feel them and allow doctors to successfully treat breast cancer less aggressively.
“Women who have their cancer found early on a screening mammogram are less likely to need chemotherapy, mastectomy, and axillary node dissection,” said Dr. Cornett. “This is even more important for women age 40–49. Having breast cancer treated early improves quality of life for breast cancer survivors.”
Advances in mammography screening have improved even further the ability of doctors to better detect breast cancer in its early stages. New 3-D mammography technology gives doctors a more detailed picture of the breast tissue and reduces the chances of a false positive or a false negative. That means doctors are less likely to need additional mammograms for shadows that are benign, and more likely to find smaller hidden cancers.
Who is at risk for breast cancer?
One in eight women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime and breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death among women.
Dr. Cornett said the number one risk factor for developing breast cancer is simply being a woman, although men can develop it, too. Right behind that is growing older. “Just because breast cancer has never run in your family doesn’t mean you can’t get it. About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of the disease,” she said.
If you’re a woman who has passed her 40th birthday and you haven’t had a mammogram, don’t put it off any longer. Schedule a mammogram today.
Schedule your mammogram
To accommodate your busy schedule, many of our Breast Health Center locations offer early morning and late afternoon hours for breast imaging procedures. No physician referral is needed.Schedule a Mammogram