Breast cancer is one of today’s most pressing women’s health concerns, but routine mammography can help protect you. Here’s why annual mammogram screenings are beneficial and when you should start getting them.
Breast Cancer Risk
The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that the average breast cancer risk for American women is about 13 percent. Annually, about 44,000 women die from advanced cases of the disease in the United States alone; plus, the number of cases appears to be increasing by about ½ of one percent each year.
With these numbers in mind, doctors across the country have developed guidelines for when to start routine mammography screening and how often to get it. Mammography is a low-radiation X-ray of each breast, yielding both front and side views. These views show the radiologist the internal structure of the breasts, including the ducts and other tissues, which could contain cancerous lesions, fibrocystic disease, benign calcifications, or other abnormalities.
While the vast majority of breast abnormalities are not cancerous, some are. Of these malignancies, some are more likely to spread or metastasize, beyond the affected breast to the lymph nodes and major body organs, such as the skeletal system, lungs, and brain.
Besides age, certain lifestyle elements, body type, and hereditary factors can increase a woman’s chances for developing breast cancer. These factors can include:
- Living a sedentary lifestyle
- Carrying too much body weight
- Taking hormone supplements, including birth control pills
- Never getting pregnant, giving birth, or breast-feeding
- Being taller than average height
- Having BRCA1 or BRCA1 genes
- Having a first-degree relative (sister, daughter, or mother) who has had breast cancer
- Undergoing chest radiation treatment before the age of 30
- Starting menstruation before age 12 and going through menopause later than age 55
Breast Cancer Testing Recommendations
The ACS stresses that knowing your risk factors can help you and your doctor determine when you should begin getting mammograms and how often you have them. Both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Cancer Society agree that women 40 and older can benefit from annual mammograms if they are at average risk for developing breast cancer.
Recommendations for other age groups include:
- Bi-annual mammography for women aged 55 and older
- Mammography as needed for women 75 and up
3D Mammography in The Bronx
At Starling Diagnostics, our clinical services include state-of-the-art three-dimensional mammography. This easy and comfortable breast X-ray produces exceptionally clear images, which are particularly helpful in screening women with dense breast tissue. Our on-site radiologists will read your mammograms quickly and prepare accurate reports for your physician.
Starling Diagnostics is known for its vast variety of affordable imaging tests, as well as primary care and women’s health services. We are efficient, compassionate, and patient-centered.