Pink ribbons are popping up everywhere, an effective reminder of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Every October this national and international campaign, organized by major breast cancer research non-profits, kicks into gear to emphasize awareness of the disease and teach prevention tips.
Swope Health Services supports breast cancer awareness by providing year-round mammogram services, said Claire Holland, Manager of Radiology. During October as well as the rest of the year, the Radiology Department also provides free breast cancer awareness information and health care tips.
“If you have a mammogram, it can change your life,” Claire said. “A lot of cancers can’t be found without a mammogram – it’s important to be checked. The quicker a problem is found, the easier the treatment. If untreated, over time, it spreads and the risk increases.”
Claire noted that most visits take about 30 minutes, with the actual mammogram lasting about eight minutes.
She recalled an instance last year in which a mother and daughter came in together. The mother was afraid to get a mammogram – her last one, years earlier, had shown an abnormality but she never followed up. As a result, she was fearful, Claire said.
But her daughter encouraged her, and both were screened. The results came back normal.
“It was a cool thing,” Claire said. “She would never have gotten it done, but her daughter pushed her. Now she doesn’t have to be afraid.”
A mammogram is just one of the steps you can take toward breast health, Claire said. Other steps focus on healthy lifestyle habits, understanding personal risk, knowing the signs and symptoms, and learning how to detect changes in your breasts.
The signs and symptoms can include any change in the size or shape of breasts, pain in any areas, nipple discharge or the presence of any lump.
But mammograms are important, because some people with breast cancer have no symptoms at all, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A mammogram won’t prevent cancer, but it can help find it early, when it is easier to treat.
The World Health Organization reports that breast cancer is by far the most common cancer in women worldwide, with about 1.4 million new cases each year. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, in the US, breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer in women (after skin cancer). About one in eight women in the US will get breast cancer.
So, take action: schedule a visit with your provider today. Call 816-923-5800 for an appointment; to schedule your mammogram, call 816-599-5870.
Do you need a mammogram?
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists encourages women to discuss their health and risks with their provider and take an active approach to managing their own health care. The goal is to encourage and support women in making informed, individualized decisions about when to start screening, how often to be screened and when to end screening.
Here are the general guidelines for screening:
- Women at average risk of breast cancer should be screened at age 40.
- At age 50, if a woman has not had a mammogram screening, she should.
- Women with average risk of breast cancer should have follow-up mammogram screenings every year or every other year.
- Screenings should continue until about age 75, for women at average risk.
Find more details on the ACOG recommendations here.