Breast cancer accounts for 1 in 3 (30%) new female cancer diagnoses every year in the United States. As the second most common cancer among American women, you have a 1 in 8 chance of developing it at some point in life. Skin cancer is the only malignancy that’s diagnosed more often.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, women’s health expert Tyneza Mitchell, FNP, and our skilled team at Comprehensive Care Clinic in Spring, Texas, are here to help you make sense of the updated breast cancer screening guidelines and help you consider if it may be time for you to schedule your next screening mammogram.
In addition to being the most diagnosed female-specific cancer in the United States, breast cancer is also the second leading cause of cancer deaths among American women (following lung cancer).
As troubling as this statistic may be, however, we’ve got good news: Breast cancer mortality rates have steadily decreased since 1989, with an overall decline of 43% through 2020.
The reason for this welcome advance in women’s health outcomes? It comes down to one key preventive tool — mammograms. Breast cancer screenings are an invaluable part of women’s preventive health care for good reason: Having routine screening mammograms is the best way to catch breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage.
Like virtually all forms of cancer, breast cancer is easiest to treat — and more likely to be cured — when it’s caught early before it has the chance to spread (metastasize).
Given that breast cancer can exist for months without causing symptoms or tumors that are large enough to be felt, this is precisely what a screening mammogram aims to achieve: Early detection before the cancer has advanced enough to cause noticeable warning signs.
Guidelines for screening mammograms, as put forth by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), have recently changed based on the fact that breast cancer mainly occurs in middle-aged and older women: The median age at the time of diagnosis is 62 years old, and the disease affects very few women younger than the age of 45.
The USPSTF recommends that women with an average breast cancer risk should:
If you have an average breast cancer risk, the choice to have screening mammograms every other year before the age of 50 is an individual one that should be made with input from your health care provider. If you’re in your 40s and haven’t yet had a mammogram, Tyneza Mitchell, FNP can help you weigh the benefits and risks of starting screening mammograms now.
When invasive breast cancer is caught early and treated before it spreads, its 5-year survival rate is 99%. While various factors affect your personal treatment outlook, one fact remains — the sooner you catch breast cancer, the better.
The American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of breast cancer haven’t changed. Knowing these recommendations may help inform your decision-making process as you decide when it’s best to schedule your first (or next) screening mammogram:
The bottom line? Screening mammograms are an essential part of women’s preventive health care, and we can help you determine when it’s best to start incorporating them into your wellness routine.
Give us a call to learn more, or click online to schedule a visit at Comprehensive Care Clinic in Spring, Texas, today.