Today marks National Mammography Day. Every year, this day falls on the third Friday of October, during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as a reminder to women that the best defense against breast cancer is early detection.
More than 3.5 million breast cancer survivors are currently living in the U.S. Women born today have a one in eight chance of getting breast cancer, making it the second most common cancer among women, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Regular monitoring increases chances of catching breast abnormalities early when the cancer is most treatable. Conducting monthly breast self-exams and clinical breast exams can help detect warning signs, but screening mammograms have the ability to detect lumps and abnormalities before it can be felt.
What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is a breast x-ray that can show a lump or abnormality. There are two types: screening mammograms and diagnostic mammograms. Annual screening mammograms are one of the best ways to detect changes and abnormalities in the breast tissue, while diagnostic mammograms are more detailed images used to diagnose the abnormalities. Mammograms can detect changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or doctor can feel them, which can reduce a woman’s chances of needing invasive treatment like a mastectomy.
Facts about mammography:
- The American College of Radiology found that for every 1,000 women who have screening mammograms, 100 are recalled for more images, 20 are recommended for a needle biopsy and five are diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Doctors suggest women 40-years-old and older come in for annual mammograms as a preventative measure.
- Mammography is a quick procedure—only 20 minutes—and uses minimal radiation.
- Deodorant and antiperspirant can affect the image. The powder can be mistaken for calcifications in the breast, so it’s best avoid using them before a screening.
- Breast implants can make the image more difficult to read, so it’s best to tell your doctor ahead of time if you have them.
- Try not to schedule a mammogram within a week of your period starting. Swollen, tender breasts can make the scan uncomfortable and provide harder-to-read images.
- Most mammograms do not result in a diagnosis, so don’t be scared to get one!
Feel empowered about your health decisions and use this nationally recognized day as a reminder that a 20 minute mammogram may take time from your day, but it could help save your life.