It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month — Schedule Your Mammogram Now!

Oct 01, 2023
It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month — Schedule Your Mammogram Now!
Screening mammograms are the best way to catch breast cancer in its early, most treatable stage. Learn how early breast cancer detection can save your life — and find out if it may be time for you to schedule your next mammogram.

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

Beating breast cancer through early detection 

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.

Updated USPSTF mammogram guidelines

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: 

  • Have a mammogram every two years starting at the age of 50
  • Continue biennial mammograms until about 74 years of age
  • Consider biennial mammograms between the ages of 40 and 49

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 should I schedule my next mammogram?

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:

  • Women aged 40 to 44 may choose to start having annual mammograms 
  • Women aged 45 to 54 should have annual mammograms
  • Women aged 55 and older may continue with annual screenings, or switch to biennial mammograms (in the absence of past irregular results)
  • Women of advancing age should continue screenings (annually or every two years) while in good general health, provided life expectancy is at least 10 more years
  • Women with a high breast cancer risk may be advised to have a screening mammogram along with a breast MRI every year starting at the age of 30

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.