Mammograms: Understanding their Importance in Breast Cancer Prevention
Mammograms: Understanding their Importance in Breast Cancer Prevention, by Dr. Anupama Ravikanth, Lead Physician, Southeast Medical Group
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women worldwide. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 281,500 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2022 alone. One in eight women in their lifetime will be diagnosed with breast cancer and that's a staggering number, that's one woman in every person's inner circle of women. It's important to understand that early detection of breast cancer is key to successful treatment and recovery. One of the most effective ways to detect breast cancer early is by undergoing regular mammograms. Self-breast exams are also especially important and should be done preferably on a monthly basis.
What is a Mammogram?
A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray image of the breast. It is used to detect changes or abnormalities in the breast tissue that may indicate the presence of cancer. Mammograms can detect breast cancer at its earliest stage, before any symptoms appear. Early detection allows for more effective treatment and a higher chance of survival. In addition, I would encourage self-breast exams also. I do know some women prefer thermography, but studies have shown head-to-head comparisons, and as far as screening is concerned, mammograms are still the preferred option. 3D ultrasounds are also recommended for some patients in addition to mammograms, but not as a substitute, for patients who are at elevated risk and have dense breasts.
Why are Mammograms Important?
Mammograms are an essential preventive action that every woman should consider. Here are a few reasons why:
Early Detection: Mammograms can detect breast cancer at its earliest stage when it is most treatable. Regular mammograms can detect changes in breast tissue long before they can be felt during a breast self-exam. Early detection allows for more treatment options and a higher chance of survival.
Reduce Mortality Rates: Studies show that regular mammograms can reduce breast cancer mortality rates by up to 30%. This is because early detection allows for more effective treatment and better outcomes.
Better Treatment Options: When breast cancer is detected early, it is often easier to treat with less invasive procedures. This means less pain, less scarring, and a faster recovery time. Early detection could be the difference between a lumpectomy and a mastectomy, a much more invasive surgery with a more challenging recovery.
Peace of Mind: Knowing that you are regularly getting mammograms can give you peace of mind and reduce anxiety about breast cancer. It’s one less thing to worry about when you are proactive about your health.
When Should You Start Getting Mammograms?
The American Cancer Society recommends that women with an average risk of breast cancer should start getting mammograms at age 40 and continue to have them annually. Women with a higher risk of breast cancer may need to start getting mammograms earlier and more frequently.
In closing, Mammograms are a simple yet effective tool for detecting breast cancer early. They can save lives by allowing for early detection and treatment. If you are a woman over the age of 40 or have a higher risk of breast cancer, it’s important to schedule regular mammograms with your healthcare provider. Don’t wait until you feel a lump or experience symptoms - be proactive about your health and take preventive action by scheduling a mammogram today.