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Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022

Let’s Do Something About It

Make Your Mammogram Happen

One in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and the reality is that it is treatable and curable when diagnosed early. Every 74 seconds, a woman dies from breast cancer somewhere in the world. It is the leading cause of cancer death among women worldwide. The American Cancer Society estimates that 287,850 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed this year. These alarming statistics come with a plea for women to understand the importance of scheduling an annual mammogram.

Mammograms are the most important tool physicians have for the early detection of breast cancer, even when there are no signs or symptoms. Mammography has helped reduce breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by nearly 40% since 1990.

“The most important action you can take to help reduce risks of breast cancer is getting an annual mammogram and performing monthly self-breast exams,” said Dr. Deepika Ralla, medical oncologist and hematologist at CHRISTUS Cancer Treatment Center.

The current recommendation is for women and even men to start having breast exams and mammograms at age 40. If there is a family history or health issue that could increase your risk factors, the time to start having mammograms could be earlier.

Beyond family history, studies have shown that the risk for breast cancer is due to a combination of factors, including being a woman, getting older, reproductive history and genetic mutations. Women should talk to their physicians and know when it is time to start having annual mammograms and address any changes in their breasts and health.

A 3D mammogram captures multiple images, or slices, of the breast from several angles, creating a multidirectional image in which masses and breast cancer are easier to see. It is beneficial for women with dense breast tissue by allowing for a more sensitive evaluation. It reduces the chances of being called back for unnecessary screenings due to false alarms.

“Survivorship is the story we want to champion. It’s up to you to take control of your breast health,” said Dr. Ralla. “Women beat breast cancer every day because they decide to be proactive.”

Dr. Ralla explained finding breast cancer earlier means being able to treat it sooner. Knowing and understanding the treatment options available if you get a breast cancer diagnosis is also helpful.

Treatment is different for everyone depending on the type of breast cancer.

“Choosing to do something about breast cancer starts with understanding your risk,” Dr. Ralla said.

Finding breast cancer earlier means being able to celebrate even more survivors, all because women are choosing to be proactive about their breast health.

Shelli Briery Murphy, CHRISTUS health contributor.

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