Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Do You Need a Mammogram?

Each year, approximately 37 million women in the United States get a mammogram. Mammography uses low-energy x-rays to examine the human breast for diagnosis and screening. During the screen you will be asked to place each breast on a plastic platform and a technician will press a plastic plate down on your breast. Flattening out your breast for a brief period of time helps spread out the tissue, making it easier to detect abnormalities. While you may experience mild discomfort, the entire process takes less than three minutes.

While it can’t prevent cancer or other abnormalities, a mammogram is your best defense against breast cancer as it can detect cancer early—when it’s most treatable—and long before it can be felt. In fact, mammography is the only test known for reducing the breast cancer fatalities.

When should I start getting mammograms?

According to the American Cancer Society, women between the ages of 40 and 54 should get a mammogram every year. Why? The risk of breast cancer increases with age (and therefore perimenopause and menopause). Women who are going through menopause have twice the risk for breast cancer resulting from fluctuating hormones and more exposure to estrogen.

Why do I need a mammogram every year?

Preventive health care is essential for long-term health and wellness. Getting an annual mammogram will help detect cancers early, allowing doctors to provide effective treatment. When you get a mammogram every year, your doctor can compare images side-by-side and year-to-year to locate subtle differences. Women with dense breast tissue or benign lesions may be required to get mammograms more often (e.g., every six months). These additional screening mammograms help doctors monitor questionable tissue and lesions.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month; an annual campaign designed to increase awareness of the disease itself as well as available preventive health care practices, like screening mammography. If you or a loved one is over 40 and need a mammogram, contact the skilled, compassionate physicians at Bay Area Physicians. We offer high-quality, personalized women’s healthcare to help you be as healthy as you can be. Call us at 251-344-5900.