Breast cancer is the most common cancer found in women besides skin cancers. Breast screening tests include 3D and 2D mammograms that are used to find cancer before it causes symptoms. Treatment can be more effective when the cancer is detected early on, as it is more likely to be small and confined to the chest area.
The best way to find cancer early is to get screened according to your doctor’s recommendation. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends all women ages 50 to 74 be screened every other year. They also recommend that women who are 40-to-49-years-old should have the option to get screened early if they choose to do so.
If you are 50 years or older and have not been screened for breast cancer, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with your primary care provider to discuss this important screening today. However, it is never too early to ask your doctor when you should be screened. You can keep yourself healthy by following the steps below to reduce your risk of breast cancer.
1. Work with Your Doctor to Identify Risk Level
Your doctor can determine when and how often you should be screened by assessing your risk level. Your risk level will be based on several factors, including:
- Family history
- Race/ ethnicity
- Density of breast tissue
- Lifestyle-related risk factors
2. Talk to Your Doctor About the Risks vs. Benefits of Screening
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided the benefit vs. risk information below to discuss with your doctor:
- Find cancer early when it is easier to treat
- False positive test results
- Pain during procedure
- Radiation exposure
- False negative results
3. Get Screened as Recommended
Once you have talked with your doctor about your risk level, you can work together to establish a screening timeline that will keep you healthy. The American Cancer Society provides the recommendations below, which are determined by your risk level and slightly differ from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Please talk to your provider to determine a recommendation that is personalized for you.
Women at Average Risk:
- Women between 40 and 44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year.
- Women 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
- Women 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms. Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live at least 10 more years.
Women at High Risk:
- Get a breast MRI and a mammogram every year, typically starting at age 30.
4. Report Any Changes to Your Doctor
Self-exams can be effective in identifying signs of breast cancer. It is important for women to become familiar with the way their breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to your doctor right away.
Need Help Scheduling an Appointment?
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