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The Importance of Getting Regular Mammogram Screenings

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mamogram-screening.jpgMammograms help save thousands of lives each year by detecting breast cancer early, when it’s most treatable. Yet only 66.8 percent of women over 40 have had a mammogram in the past two years, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The American Cancer Society recently changed its guidelines and now recommends beginning them at age 45, or at 40 if the patient chooses. The ACS recommends getting them annually until age 54—and then every two years after that. However, at Fisher-Titus, we follow the guidelines of organizations such as the American College of Radiology, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, which all recommend annual mammography beginning at age 40.

For women with a higher risk of breast cancer, standard guidelines don’t apply. Doctors agree that for high-risk women screenings should start at age 40—or even earlier. Risk factors include having a family history of the disease, a BRCA gene mutation and having been exposed to radiation as a child.

Factors to Consider

False-positives and overdiagnosis are the biggest concerns. False-positives occur when a mammogram shows something suspicious that later turns out to be nothing. False-positives are more common before age 50 because women tend to have dense breasts before menopause, which can make mammograms harder to read.

The cost of a mammogram varies by insurance provider, which can be a potential deterrent to women considering getting the screening annually. Here at Fisher-Titus, we offer a Mammography Fund to those who qualify financially to ensure they get the care they need without it being a financial burden.

Mammograms Save Lives

Breast cancer can develop any time, and the earliest way to detect it is through yearly mammograms. There have been cases where a woman had a normal mammogram result one year, and then the following year, breast cancer was detected. The longer the period of time between screenings, the more time the cancer has to grow, making it harder to treat once it is found.

If you feel you are due for a mammogram, be sure to bring it up with your gynecologist or family doctor to get their recommendation.

If you would like to schedule a mammogram at Fisher-Titus, call 419-660-2646.

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