Along with breast self-exams, routine breast cancer screening is a crucial part of a woman’s health care regimen. Finding breast cancer before symptoms start is an important influence on increasing the chances of survival, and early detection is a crucial element to how treatment will be administered for a positive recovery.
With so many differing guidelines, many women may be unsure about how and when to start their regular mammograms. Here are some facts and guidelines on breast cancer screening and mammograms:
When Should Mammogram Screening Begin?
Your routine mammogram schedule depends on your breast cancer risk. The American Cancer Society recommends women who are deemed to be average risk follow these guidelines:
- Women between 40 and 44 may opt to start screening with a mammogram yearly.
- Women 45 to 54 should get mammogram screening yearly.
- Women 55 and older can switch to mammograms every other year or can continue annual mammograms.
While it’s ideal to start screening before symptoms of breast cancer arise, it’s important to listen to your body — don’t ignore symptoms. If you notice any significant changes such as swelling, nipple discharge or dimpled breasts contact your doctor right away.
How is Risk of Breast Cancer Determined?
Your doctor may use a series of evaluations to estimate your risk. For example, Parrish Medical Center uses a breast cancer risk assessment tool. The tool prompts a series of questions to determine a woman’s risk in developing invasive breast cancer over the next 5 years up to age 90. There are 7 key risk factors in breast cancer:
- Current age
- Age at first period
- Age at time of first childbirth
- Family history of breast cancer
- Number of prior breast biopsies that have detected atypical hyperplasia
For more information about your risk factors in developing breast cancer, talk to your doctor. Should it be determined that you are at above-average risk, discuss with your doctor how often you should get mammograms as well as determine the best breast cancer prevention plan that is right for you.
A cancer diagnosis comes with many challenges. From initial breast cancer screening to treatment, Parrish Medical Center is here to answer all your questions and concerns. Our comprehensive cancer program is nationally recognized by the Commission on Cancer (COC), and our Cancer Care Navigator Program can help ease some of your burdens so you can focus on your health and recovery.