Nearly 40,000 women die each year from breast cancer. As we celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, it can’t be stressed enough that mammograms can help save lives. Health care experts say the best way to survive cancer is to find it early, when it is most easily treated. Knowing the basic facts about mammograms could save your life or the life of someone you love.
What is a mammogram?
- A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray picture of the breast.
Why should I have a mammogram?
- Regular mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early. They can find breast lumps that are too small for a woman or her doctor to feel.
When should I start having mammograms?
- Annual mammograms are recommended starting at age 40, along with a breast exam by your health care provider. Women in their 20s and 30s should have a breast exam by their doctor about every three years.
Who gets breast cancer?
- All women can get breast cancer, even those who have no family history of the disease. The two most important risk factors are being a woman and growing older. The risk increases as women get older.
Are mammograms painful?
- Although everyone’s pain tolerance is different, the compression involved in a mammogram is usually described as temporary discomfort. Your breast might be more sensitive just before or during your period, so you might want to avoid scheduling your mammogram during those times.
How can I be vigilant?
- Women should know how their breast normally look and feel. Any changes, such as a lump, thickening, liquid leaking from the nipple, or changes to the nipple should be reported to their health care provider.
Women’s Health Outreach Specialist AmeriCorps Member at Heart of the City – West