It is that time of the year where we focus on your breasts! I was thinking about the topic on my walk this morning when I noticed these two pairs of acorns that literally just looked like breasts to me. It was a sign!
Are you over the age of 40 or have a first degree relative (mom, dad, sisters/brothers) that has a history of breast cancer? There is no clear consensus for when women with average risk should begin screening for breast cancer but most will say that you should begin between the ages of 40-49. See the Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines under our Resources Tab. There are several risk factors that may move the start age up. This is a conversation you should be having with your primary care clinician or ob/gyn so that you two can review your family history and other risk factors.
Breast cancer accounts for 30% of the new cancer diagnosis each year but due to improved technology and treatment, we now have a 90% 5-year survival rate.
- 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
- It is second most common type in women behind skin cancer
- Black women are more likely to die from breast cancer.
- The two biggest risk factors are being a woman and advanced age.
- Less than 1% of all diagnosis will be in men.
Screening mammograms are done when there is no current problem. Diagnostic mammograms are done when there is a question about something they see on the screening mammogram and they are doing a more detailed look at the problem area.
As an ObGyn, I follow ACOG’s recommendations but you may be seeing a family medicine clinician who is following the USPTF (first column) guidelines. Once you discuss your risk factors, you can decide at what age you need to begin getting them, how often or when to stop them. You can decide if you want to get genetic testing done.
Educate yourself and ask family members if they have had breast disease. Review the Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines. Make an appointment with your clinician so that you can review your options if you think you are at high risk. Speak up for yourself if you do not agree with your clinician’s advice. My feisty mom was told that she didn’t need one since she was over 70. She told them she didn’t care and would pay for it out of pocket. You guessed it. It showed a small change which was diagnosed as a Stage I breast cancer.
Your insurance company may have guidelines on what they will pay for but you can always agree to pay for one out of pocket if you want to. If you do not have insurance, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 and they can direct you to the nearest place that can assist you.