Today, 7/4/2019, Dr. Oz brings us all the information we need to know about mammograms.
According to the CDC, breast cancer is the next most common cancer for women in the United States, after skin cancers. The CDC continues to say that it’s also “the second most common cause of death from cancer among white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women.”
DoctorOz.com talked to Dr. Laurie Margolies, Chief of Breast Imaging and Professor of Radiology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital to get all the important details of mammograms, age by age.
A mammogram can help save your life; here’s what Dr. Margolies wants you to know.
When Should I Start Going for Mammograms?
If you’re under 50, mammograms might be the furthest thing from your mind. But, it turns out, Dr. Margolies has a younger age in mind when it comes to adopting a routine screening schedule: “One out of eight women can get breast cancer,” she says.
According to Dr. Margolies, “The average-risk person should start at age 40.” The American Cancer Society recommends that women ages 45 to 54 should get a mammogram every year. It suggests that women age 55 and older can switch to mammograms every two years or can continue yearly screening, depending on their history. It is important to note that the Society emphasized the importance of continuing to get screened, regardless of age. In fact, if a woman is healthy and expected to live for another 10+ years, she should continue to get mammograms: you can get breast cancer at any age.
How Does Family History Play a Role in Prevention?
According to the CDC about 3 percent of all breast cancer cases in the U.S. are a result of inherited genes.
Don’t know your family history or come from a small family? Not to worry. Dr. Margolies recommends to start going for annual mammograms once you turn 40. Not all people with inherited genes go on to develop breast cancer. However, if breast cancer runs in your family, you should make your mammogram appointment sooner rather than later. Dr. Margolies recommends starting 10 years younger than the age of the family member when they were diagnosed. For example, if your mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 45, you should begin screenings at the age of 35.
What Can I Expect at My First Mammogram?
The purpose of a mammogram is to take pictures of your breasts. In order to do this, the breast is lightly compressed by a plastic plate to spread out the breast tissue and see any potential abnormalities in cells. As soon as the picture is taken, the compression is released and then the process is repeated on the other breast.
Dr. Margolies assures that there is no dangerous risk to the patient during or after using the mammography tools. “Our current mammogram technology has such low-dose imaging that there is close to zero risks, if not zero risks, any problems from radiation would occur,” she says.
Are Mammograms Painful?
Mammograms are a different experience for everyone, but it’s common to feel slight discomfort during the screening.
What Can I Do Now to Limit My Breast Cancer Risk?
There is not one thing that causes breast cancer. Things like age, family history, and overall habits can increase your risk. While age and family history are things that cannot be avoided or changed, keeping a healthy lifestyle is an important step for prevention. According to the CDC maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, and limiting alcohol are all controllable factors that can help decrease your risk.
Dr. Margolies adds that while there is a very low risk of breast cancer from birth control pills, it’s not completely off the list of risk factors. She does not advise patients to stop using them because of a potential breast cancer risk. Dr. Margolies recommends learning as much as you can from an early age. “Being aware of your breasts in your late teens and early 20s — getting used to feeling them — is the best advice I can give,” she says. “Women should make an appointment with their gynecologist, whether sexually active or not, around this age for early preventative measures.”
Having an annual checkup is not just about sexual health, it is also a time for a breast examination to detect any abnormalities. “Knowing your breasts can help you detect any changes that would prompt a visit to the doctor. These might include changes around the nipple, nipple discharge, or a palpable mass,” says Dr. Margoiles.
Photo courtesy of Bing via cnn.com