Why You Need a Routine Mammogram

Posted on Oct 24, 2009 in Uncategorized

It’s not a perfect detector, but studies show it keeps death rates lower.


October 1, 2009

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American women behind lung cancer. The risk for women of getting it in their lifetime is about 1 in 8, though the risk of dying from it is 1 in 28, says the University of Pennsylvania’s Oncolink resource. Men can get it, too but the risk is much lower.

Without a mammogram, women may not know they have breast cancer until it is advanced and much harder to treat. Mammograms can find breast cancer as much as two years before a woman or a doctor can feel a lump, according to the American Breast Cancer Foundation. Finding and treating it early, before it spreads helps 97 percent of women survive five years or more.

The American Cancer Society recommends women 40 and older get a screening mammogram every year and keep getting them as long as they are in good health. If you are at high risk–and a doctor can help you determine if you are–you may need mammograms early or more often.

Research clearly shows that they offer substantial benefit to women in their 40s, ACS reports. But they are not fool-proof. A small percentage of cancers will be missed. Also it may show cells that look abnormal and a biopsy may be performed before it is determined there is no cancer.

But despite the limitations, they are the best tool we have to decrease suffering and death from breast cancer. Other tests are still in clinical trials, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

ACS also recommends a clinical breast exam as part of a periodic health exam about every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over.


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