When & How Often Do Women Need Mammograms?
Breast cancer is a very serious health concern – but early detection can be a literal lifesaver. In the United States, there were an estimated 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 49,290 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer in 2021 according to the American Cancer Society.
And tragically, more than 43,000 women in the U.S. are expected to die from breast cancer annually. But the good news is that the five-year relative survival rate for localized breast cancer is about 99% when it is caught before it “spreads” outside the breasts. But this survival rate drops to around 27% for distant-stage breast cancer which has spread to parts of the body such as the lungs, liver, or bones – according to the American Cancer Society.
These statistics underscore the importance of early detection of breast cancer through mammograms. In this article, top Dearborn OBGYN Dr. Chadi Haddad explores what breast cancer is, what causes it, why early detection is crucial, and at what age and how often mammograms are recommended.
Understanding Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a disease that occurs when cells in the breast start growing uncontrollably. While the exact cause of breast cancer isn’t always clear, certain factors, such as genetics, lifestyle, and hormonal influences, can play a role. Early detection is crucial because it allows healthcare providers to identify breast cancer in its early, much more treatable stages.
Mammogram Age (For Women of Normal Risk)
Expert organizations like the American Cancer Society make the recommendations as to when and how often women should get mammograms. These organizations regularly assess the latest scientific evidence to provide guidance on the best practices for breast cancer screening.
For women of normal risk, the American Cancer Society recommends starting annual mammograms at age 40. They suggest continuing these screenings as long as a woman is in good health and expected to live at least ten more years. Mammograms are a key tool for detecting breast cancer in its early stages when treatment is most effective.
The recommended frequency for mammograms in women with normal risk factors is once a year. This annual screening helps ensure that any potential breast abnormalities are identified as early as possible and treated promptly.
Mammograms for Women at “High Risk”
Some women are at high risk for breast cancer. They may have a strong family history of breast cancer or known genetic mutations like BRCA1 or BRCA2. For “high risk” women, mammograms may start earlier, often around age 30. Dr. Chadi Haddad, Dearborn Heights OBGYN, or your own healthcare provider will determine the frequency of your mammograms, and screenings will be personalized based on individual risk factors. If you are in the “high risk” category, our breast cancer screening may also include other tests like breast MRI.
Am I at “High Risk” For Breast Cancer?
Determining whether you are at high risk for breast cancer involves assessing various factors, primarily centered around family history and, in some cases, genetic testing. These should be discussed with Dearborn Heights OBGYN Dr. Chadi Haddad or your healthcare provider.
But generally, here’s what you should be looking for in determining whether you are at higher risk for breast cancer and may need genetic testing and/or younger or more frequent breast cancer screenings – including mammograms.
If you have first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, children) who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, especially at a younger age (before menopause), it may increase your risk. Keep a record of the ages at which they were diagnosed. The breast cancer history of second-degree relatives (aunts, uncles, grandparents) can also be significant, especially if multiple family members on the same side of the family have been affected.
A family history of ovarian cancer, particularly among first-degree relatives, can also elevate your risk for breast cancer, as there is a genetic link between the two. Pay attention to the ages at which your relatives were diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer. Younger ages at diagnosis can be more concerning.
Certain ethnic backgrounds, such as Ashkenazi Jewish descent, are associated with an increased risk of carrying a genetic predisposition to breast cancer, including the “BRCA mutations”.
Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer BRCA Mutations
Genetic testing for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes can provide valuable information about your risk for breast cancer. You can discuss genetic testing with Dearborn Heights OBGYN Dr. Chadi Haddad or your healthcare provider if you have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, are of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, or meet other specific criteria of being “high risk”.
Genetic testing for breast cancer BRCA mutations is typically conducted in specialized genetics clinics, cancer centers, or through certified laboratories. Dearborn Heights OBGYN Dr. Chadi Haddad can guide you to appropriate testing facilities and provide recommendations based on your individual circumstances. Remember that being identified as high risk doesn’t mean you will definitely develop breast cancer. However, it provides valuable information for personalized risk assessment and management, which may include increased surveillance, preventive measures, or other interventions to reduce your risk.
Mammograms | Breast Cancer Screening | Dearborn Heights
Mammograms are your most valuable and crucial tool in the fight against breast cancer. Making time every year to see Dr. Haddad in Dearborn Heights to discuss scheduling your mammogram and other regular screenings can help detect breast cancer and other serious conditions at the earliest stages. This helps ensure the highest survival rate from breast cancer, cervical cancer, and other diseases, so you can live a long, healthy, and happy life!
CLICK HERE to schedule your annual exam and health screenings with Dr. Chadi Haddad, MD or Nurse Practitioner Lucy Schoemer, DNP in Dearborn Heights, today!
Mammograms | Dearborn Heights: 313.724.3759
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