I had my first mammogram right around my 40th birthday in 2007. Back then, the recommendation was that a woman should have her first mammogram at 40. It was five years before I had another one because the recommendations changed. In 2015, when I had my most recent mammogram, the recommendations again. How’s a girl supposed to know when’s the right time?
The Susan G. Komen Foundation recently created a graph to help outline the differing guidelines:
I know it can be a little scary to think about getting your first mammogram? Will it hurt? Usually no. For me, with size C-D naturals, it was mostly just uncomfortable. What if the mammogram shows something? Isn’t it better to find out and get it treated?
Cancer Treatment Centers of America has some helpful information on the risk factors for breast cancer.
It is also critical to understand the types of screening tests available and how and when to choose the right one.
- Physical Exam: Annual exam is recommended by most physicians. Speak with yours.
- Mammogram: Typically done between the ages of 40-74, perhaps sooner based on personal and family history. 3D mammography is a new screening and diagnostic breast imaging tool to improve the early detection of breast cancer. This highly sensitive imaging tool provides individual images of thin layers of breast tissue, which produce much clearer images as compared to two-dimensional (2D) mammography.
- Needle Aspiration: Also known as a fine needle aspiration, a way of obtaining tissue for biopsy if needed.
- Biopsy: Usually a wider needle to obtain more tissue. “Tissue is the issue” to make a diagnosis!
Keep in mind
- According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 90 percent of women who are 40 and older and find and treat their breast cancer are cancer-free after five years.
- Women who have a mother, sister or daughter who have or have had breast cancer are almost twice as likely to develop the disease.
- Be sure to discuss your risks for the disease with your doctor. If you are under 50, ask your doctor when you should start to have mammograms.
- Women who are at high risk for developing breast cancer should come up with a comprehensive cancer screening plan with their doctor. For example, women who have a family history of breast cancer should discuss having a genetic test to determine if they have mutations to their BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, which increase their risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer.
What are you waiting for?