October 15 Is National Mammography Day. . . Have You Been Screened?
Detecting a breast tumor early is the best means of preventing death from breast cancer. Regular screening mammograms (done as part of an annual check-up) have been shown to decrease your risk of dying from breast cancer.
The benefits of screening mammography are greatest for women age 50 to 69, where a 30 percent reduction in breast cancer deaths has been shown. But recent evidence suggests that women in their 40s may also achieve a 17 percent reduction in breast cancer deaths through regular mammography. The American College of Radiology and the American Cancer Society have agreed that beginning at age 40, women should have a screening mammogram and a health care provider’s examination of the breasts every year.
Mammography is most effective when performed at a certified facility that meets national standards. The Health Alliance operates 11 fixed mammography sites and three mobile vans. You don’t need a health care provider’s order to get a mammogram, but you will be asked your health care provider’s name so he or she can be notified of the result.
While mammograms save many lives, they miss 10 percent of cancers that are present in women in their 50s, and up to 25 percent in women in their 40s. That’s why an annual breast examination by your health care provider and monthly breast self exams are so important.
The best way to examine your breast is to press firmly on the breast, moving from the outside area toward the nipple making a circle around the whole breast, including the underarm pit. Do this while in the shower and while lying down with one hand behind your head. A combination of mammography, clinical breast exam and breast self examination is recommended for best results in finding breast cancer early.
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