From dental care to annual check-ups to cancer screening, many of us have missed or fallen behind on preventative health measures in the past 15 months due to COVID-19 safety concerns. As life begins to normalize from the COVID pandemic, it’s a good time to make sure you are up-to-date with simple preventative health measures that can keep you healthy and active. Breast cancer screening is one of these vital preventative health steps.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States - 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer - and is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death in women. Over 75% of women diagnosed with breast cancer do not have any family history. The good news is that breast cancer has a survival rate of 99% when caught early, making early detection the first line of defense against this disease.
Early detection is achieved through regular breast cancer screening with mammography. Mammography is the only breast cancer screening tool that has been proven to reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer in numerous large randomized controlled trials. Unfortunately, mammography screening recommendations have become increasingly complicated in recent years, with different professional organizations touting different guidelines on when to start/stop screening and how often to get screened. This causes confusion for both women and their primary care providers.
Despite these varying recommendations, the data shows and breast cancer experts agree that the most lives can be saved by recommending annual screening starting at the age of 40. The American College of Radiology, Society of Breast Imaging, American Society of Breast Surgeons, American Medical Association and National Comprehensive Cancer Network all recommend annual screening starting at age 40. The American Cancer Society and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agree that all women should have the option of annual screening starting at age 40. While 40 is the most widely recognized recommendation, it’s best to talk to your doctor to understand what option(s) is best for you.
For women determined to be at high risk for developing breast cancer based on family history and other factors, screening should begin by the age of 25-30 and include MRI in addition to mammography. Women with a family history of breast cancer should talk to their doctors now - don’t wait until you are 40!
Don’t delay any longer - prioritize your health and schedule your screening mammogram at the Breast Cancer Center at Lutheran Medical Center. The Breast Care Center has state-of-the-art 3D tomosynthesis mammography equipment, highly skilled mammography technologists, and dedicated breast imaging radiologists here to serve our patients.
Staying on top of vital health screenings could save your life! To learn more and schedule an appointment, visit scl.health/mammo.
Written by Whitney Morgan, MD, FRCPC
Medical Director for Lutheran’s Breast Care Center