Why you shouldn’t put off that mammogram
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women, and 1 in 8 will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. This statistic emphasizes the importance of getting your preventative screening mammograms, even during a pandemic.
“Early detection of breast cancer increases patients’ survival rates,” says Dr. Nila Alsheik, Chair of Breast Imaging at Advocate Aurora Health Care. “Earlier detection of breast cancer enables easier and more effective treatment. It is therefore critical to get regular screening mammograms. As a physician, my main concern is that we will see more advanced stages of breast cancer due to fears over COVID-19 and delays in preventative mammography screening.”
You should talk to your doctor about when you should start getting screened. According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, women should begin getting yearly mammograms starting at age 50, but those between ages 40 – 49 have the option of regular screening mammograms.
“It is equally important to conduct monthly self-breast exams and report any breast changes to your doctor right away,” says Dr. Alsheik.
Commonly known breast cancer risk factors:
- Family history of breast cancer
- Over 50 years old
- Gene inheritance (BRCA 1 and BRCA2)
- Dense breast tissue
While family history of breast cancer is a risk factor, 85% of cases occur in women with no family history.
“Our core focus at Advocate Aurora Health, as we reactivate our Diagnostic Imaging services and programs amid COVID-19, is the health and safety of our patients and team members,” says Dr. Alsheik. “With the launch of our Safe Care Promise, we are implementing additional measures, including virtual check-in, universal masking of all providers and patients, screening, social distancing and enhanced sanitization measures, to ensure safe care at all of our inpatient and outpatient centers. It is critical not to neglect preventative cancer screenings when such rigorous safety measures are in place.”
If you’re due for routine mammography, look here to schedule in Illinois and look here to schedule in Wisconsin. You also can contact your primary care doctor.
Want to learn more about your risk for breast cancer? Take a free online quiz here.
About the Author
Neda Veselinovic, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital. She has more than five years of public relations experience and most recently worked with clients in the travel and hospitality industries. She prefers to spend her time with a cup of coffee and a good read and always welcomes book recommendations.
the best option is self exam. know your body and your changes. diagnosed with breast cancer at age of 38. No family history. Do not wait untill is to late.
Self exam is definitely important. I found my cancer 5 months after a mammogram. Had to remove breast and lymph nodes. I should have been doing monthly self exams. Not relying entirely on mammograms.
Absolutely, 100% know your body! I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer at 39 years old and found the lump on a self breast exam. If something doesn’t feel right, pursue it, please.
My doctor found my breast cancer at a routine physical. The diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound a few days later were normal. I have extremely dense breast tissue so the tests were false negative. My surgeon was surprised the lump he removed was breast cancer, it was supposed to be nothing bad. Mammograms are good screening but they miss sometimes. Be sure to check yourself also.
My mom was diagnosed with breast CA several years ago. She had a mammo, go the results as normal, and went to her PCP who felt the cancer. Had mastectomy and lymph nodes checked. She is doing well, but it just goes to show that you can’t rely on mammograms alone.
I can’t stress enough about getting a MRI, especially if you get a call back from your annual mammogram. I was called back after my annual mammogram, I went back had another mammogram and ultrasound. I was given the all clear, I decided to get a second opinion, I went to a breast specialist and she recommended a MRI, just to make sure. I got a call back on the MRI, the opposite breast had a tiny suspicious area. The biopsy revealed it was stage one. I opted for a double mastectomy, fortunately it did not spread into my lymph nodes.
I had annual mammograms starting at age 40. No family history but was always told I had dense tissue. Stage 1 tiny tumor found at age 50. Opted for bilateral mastectomy and glad I did, as I had other pre-cancerous tissue hiding. I’m now thriving and in virtual training for a sprint triathlon with Aurora’s Team Phoenix!
Was told by the facility that was going to do my mammogram that you can’t get one done unless it is 4 weeks after you get your Covid vaccine. A new ruling from the CDC.
They are finding false positives & swelling of the lymph nodes.