Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers for women in the United States, second only to skin cancers, and the average woman has about a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. The great news is that huge strides have been made in treatment, detection, and understanding the causes of breast cancer. With October being breast cancer awareness month, there’s no better time to learn what screenings are available to you.
How can you reduce your risk of breast cancer? While there are various risk factors, all women can benefit from reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, eating a healthy diet, and limiting or avoiding alcohol. For more information on breast cancer risk factors, visit www.cancer.org.
How is breast cancer detected? Early detection, when cancer is smaller and hasn’t spread, is one of the most powerful tools is preventing breast cancer deaths. This is why screening tests, most commonly mammograms, which can find breast cancer before it causes symptoms, are so important. While mammograms don’t catch 100% of cancers, decades of research have shown that women who have regular mammograms are more likely catch cancer early, less likely to need aggressive treatment, and more likely to be cured. The American Cancer Society recommends the following screening schedule for women with average breast cancer risk, based on age:
- 40-44 – may begin yearly mammograms
- 45-54 – should get yearly mammograms
- 55+ – may switch to screenings every other year; screenings should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer
What’s new in breast cancer detection? 3D mammography is a very exciting advancement in breast cancer screenings, and is offered locally at Madison County Health Care System (MCHCS). Along with traditional 2D mammography, MCHCS offers the Hologic 3D Mammography System, which boasts significant improvements in cancer detection, including:
- 41% increase in the detection of invasive breast cancers
- 29% increase in the detection of all breast cancers
- 49% increase in the Positive Predictive Value (PPV) for recall
- 21% increase in the PPV for biopsy
- 15% DECREASE in women recalled for additional screening.
If you’re interested in learning more about 3D mammography or scheduling an appointment for a 3D or traditional mammogram, give us a call at 515-462-2373.