How Often Should I Get A Mammogram?
Let’s talk about breast health!
And this is not only for women... Men, please encourage the women in your life to get their regular mammogram.
Let’s start off with a sobering statistic, according to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetimes. This is a disease that touches way too many lives.
More importantly, according to the Breast Cancer Organization, early detection can reduce the chance of dying from the disease significantly. Annual screening mammograms are the best way to detect cancer early.
When we find cancers while they are still localized and have not spread, we can achieve extremely high survival rates. A 5 year survival rate as high as 99% according to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation! Unfortunately, once the cancer spreads, that survival rate can drop down into the mid-20 percent range. As you can see, the earlier the cancer is detected via mammogram, the better the chances of survival.
I know, no one wants to be squished like a pancake! When you think about it, mammograms only involve a very short period of discomfort. Also, they are often paid for by the preventive medicine component of your health insurance plan. So, for most women, the exam is free. You’ll need to check with your insurance provider, but in many cases; the only out of pocket cost to you is your time. Now, given that mammograms are a proven way to detect cancer early, it’s definitely a price worth paying.
Younger women may want to get screened as well...especially if you have any history of breast cancer in your family. There’s no harm in being cautious because mammograms are safe. They involve a minimal amount of radiation. And, newer technology is constantly becoming available that further reduces the amount of radiation.
That brings us to an important question…
How often should you get a mammogram? The guidelines can be confusing. Here is what the American Cancer Society says regarding screening for women at average risk for breast cancer:
- For women between ages 40 and 44, it is up to the woman whether she gets an annual mammogram or not. Speak to your health care provider about creating a screening strategy for yourself.
- For women between the ages of 45 to 55, the American Cancer Society recommends getting a mammogram every year.
- Women over 55 can choose whether to continue with their annual screenings or switch to every 2 years.These screenings should continue as long as the woman is in good health and expects to live 10 years or longer.
- Woman younger than 40 can choose to get screened for peace of mind: especially if there is a family history of breast cancer.
And remember, even though manual self-examinations done you or by your doctor are great, they’re not a replacement for regular mammograms.
So, ask your doctor about scheduling your mammogram today. It may just save your life!