The percentages are on a woman’s side when it comes to mammograms and breast cancer diagnosis. A small percentage of women, according to the American Cancer Society, are called back for additional tests following their initial mammogram. Ten percent of women return and of that percentage only 8 to 10 percent are biopsied. Eighty percent of biopsies come back benign.
In the majority of mammogram cases, women are diagnosed as cancer free. However, just because mammogram stats are on your side, this doesn’t provide an excuse to skip your annual test, especially, as there are more statistics to consider.
Mammograms are the first defense against breast cancer, perhaps second to self-examination. In the United States, 12.4 percent of women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and this year, 266,120 diagnosed cases are projected. Breast cancer is primarily a women’s disease, but it does affect men. In 2018 it is projected that 2550 men will be diagnosed with the disease.
The risks associated with breast cancer underscore the importance of scheduling a yearly mammogram.
There are really two primary risk factors associated with breast cancer: gender and age. If you’re a woman, you’re at risk. Growing older is also a risk.
There are additional risks of course, like family history. The percentages rise, nearly doubling for a woman with a first-degree relative who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. This seems to be the statistic and risk factor that is most earth moving to women, which can be a problem.
We assume ourselves at non-risk if a mother, sister or daughter is free of the disease. Truthfully, less than 15 percent of women who are diagnosed have a family member with breast cancer. Look at it this way; breast cancer occurs in women with no family history of the disease, 85% of the time.
Statistics are helpful, but not determinate. Don’t avoid a diagnostic mammogram because your family history indicates that you may have less risk to developing breast cancer.
Early Detection is Crucial
Even if a woman doesn’t have particular symptoms that point to breast cancer, she should schedule a yearly mammogram. This is especially true for women who are 45-54 years of age, the age recommended by the American Cancer Society to begin yearly exams. Women that are 40-44 years of age can begin the process, so they’ll test images to compare for changes in the breast, by the time they turn 45-54. Once she turns 55 the American Cancer Society approves the switch from once a year, to every 2 years.
In addition to yearly mammograms, women should conduct breast self-examinations at home. This is to check for abnormalities like lumps in the breasts. Remember, that finding a lump doesn’t necessarily mean you have breast cancer. Most lumps are benign, but all lumps are worth having checked out. Tell your doctor about the lump and follow up with a mammogram. Make self-examination a habit.
Digital mammography is available at Independent Imaging, providing impeccable image quality. Digital mammography provides a low dose X-ray, which is safer for our patients. Schedule an appointment today and stay on track with yearly mammograms.