Breast Cancer Awareness: Is it time for my mammogram?

Breast cancer can occur at any age, but it is much more likely to occur after age 40 and the risk increases as you get older. The best defense is to find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat. Contributed photo
Caption
Breast cancer can occur at any age, but it is much more likely to occur after age 40 and the risk increases as you get older. The best defense is to find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat. Contributed photo

Credit: Ray Holloway

Credit: Ray Holloway

Mammograms are X-rays of the breast. They are a screening tool for finding breast cancer. They can also help to determine the cause of a lump, nipple discharge, breast pain, dimpling of the breast skin or a retracted nipple.

“Mammograms help find breast cancer early,” explains Dr. M. Patricia Braeuning, medical director of Premier Health South Breast Centers. “The earlier the cancer is found, the more likely it will be curable,” she adds. “That’s why it’s important to follow your doctor’s advice regarding when and how often to get a mammogram.”

At what age should I get a mammogram?

Breast cancer can occur at any age, but it is much more likely to occur after age 40 and the risk increases as you get older. The best defense is to find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat.

For women at average risk, Premier Health, along with the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, recommends a mammogram every year beginning at age 40. No physician referral is needed for a screening mammogram.

Talk with your doctor, who knows you best, about a mammogram schedule that’s right for you.

What if my risk is higher than average?

Some women have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. This includes women who:

  • Have a parent, sibling or child with breast cancer or those who have a genetic mutation including BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
  • Received radiation treatment of the chest between the ages of 10 and 30

In these instances, your doctor may suggest getting mammogram screenings at a younger age. Your doctor also may suggest routine whole breast ultrasound or MRI breast screenings, in addition to mammograms.

What if my breast tissue is dense?

Having dense breast tissue isn’t uncommon or abnormal, but it can make breast cancers harder to see. If your mammogram indicates your breast tissue is dense, your doctor may want to adjust your screening guidelines. Check with your doctor for any further recommendations.

To schedule a screening mammogram at any Premier Health location visit premierhealth.com/mammo.