October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

What do you do to help yourself and others?

Mammograms don’t prevent breast cancer, but they can save lives by finding breast cancer as early as possible. But mammograms alone aren’t the answer. Women also need to practice breast self-examination, get regular breast examinations by an experienced health care professional, and, in some cases, also get another form of breast imaging, such as breast MRI or ultrasound.

Finding breast cancers early means many more women being treated for breast cancer are able to keep their breasts. When caught early, localized cancers can be removed without resorting to breast removal (mastectomy).

Some women may wonder about the risks of radiation exposure due to mammography, but modern-day mammography only involves a tiny amount of radiation — even less than a standard chest X-ray.

There is a lot of confusion about when and how often to get a mammogram. For now, the recommendation by the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Radiology, The American Cancer Society, the national Cancer Institute and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network agree is for women get an annual mammogram beginning at age 40. However, if you are at high risk for breast cancer, with a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, or have had radiation treatment to the chest in the past, it is recommended you start having an annual mammogram at a younger age. This is best discussed with your health care provider.