Today is National Mammography day, which is held on the third Friday of October every year since 1993. National Mammography Day is a cousin to Breast Cancer Awareness Month. They’re both committed to women’s self care but this day is set aside specifically to encourage women to take the time to make an appointment. Early detection means early treatment and the difference between life and death. Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms.
A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. Doctors use a mammogram to look for early signs of breast cancer. Regular mammograms are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early, sometimes up to three years before it can be felt. The most common misconception about mammograms is that they are painful. Though every person has a different pain threshold, the compression performed during a mammogram is most often described as only temporary discomfort. Doctors state that “Regular mammograms are the gold standard and best test we have to find breast cancer early. This can greatly improve prognosis if the cancer is detected earlier.”
Women with a strong family history of breast cancer are considered high-risk and should begin getting mammograms earlier than the recommended age. This often includes those with a first-degree relative that has been diagnosed. In addition, doctors can perform a risk assessment tool for the development of invasive breast cancer to determine if a patient is high risk or not.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is very important because it increases our awareness and early detection through regular screening. Regular screening with mammography has been found to detect cancer early, when it is most treatable. Fortunately, breast cancer deaths continue to decline thanks to our heightened awareness and early detection. Mammography has great potential to save lives. The American College of Radiology-ACR recommends that all women age 40 and over have annual mammograms. October National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is a great month to remind women of the importance of mammography, especially if it has been over a year since the patient’s last mammogram.
A patient should take into consideration preparing for a mammogram. They should try to go to the same facility every time so mammograms can easily be compared from year to year. If a patient has had records at a different facility, try to get those records to bring with you to the new facility or have them sent there, so the old pictures can be compared to the new ones. A mammogram should be scheduled when the breasts are not tender or swollen to help reduce discomfort, which aids in getting better pictures (try to avoid the week just before your period). Also, on the day of the exam, the patient should not wear deodorant as the deodorant can show up as white spots on the x-ray.
Private Home Care encourages using National Mammography Day as a reminder to schedule a mammogram appointment. Mammograms can truly save lives!