Most women know that mammograms are a part of getting older. They seem to be one more thing to add to growing annual to-do lists. According to the American Cancer Society, women have a one in eight chance of developing breast cancer. Knowing the facts and debunking the stigmas around mammograms can save lives.
Myth: I don’t have a family history of breast cancer or any lumps, so I don’t need an annual mammogram.
The truth: Unfortunately, more than 75% of women diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a family history. Risk for breast cancer increases as you age, so it is recommended for all women to start annual mammograms at age 40. If there is a family history, your doctor will advise you when to begin. Early detection is key. According to the American Cancer Society, early-stage breast cancer has a five-year survival rate of 99%. Later-stage cancer has a survival rate of 27%. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mammograms can detect traces of breast cancer up to three years before it can be felt.
Myth: Mammograms give off unsafe levels of radiation.
The truth: Mammograms are safe. Getting a mammogram is similar to getting an X-ray; an extremely low level of radiation is used. Also, mammography is highly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, the Mammography Quality and Standards Act and other governing organizations.
Myth: Getting a mammogram is painful.
The truth: Mammograms are uncomfortable, but they are not painful. The compression involved usually is described as temporary discomfort. These few moments of unpleasantness are worth knowing you are cancer-free, or are catching it early.
Myth: Mammograms are inaccurate.
The truth: Like most things, mammograms are not 100% accurate, but they are the best tool to catch breast cancer early. Mammograms have about 80% accuracy in detecting cancer, when it is present. Getting regular screenings increases accuracy.
Myth: Mammograms are expensive.
The truth: Annual screening mammograms are covered by most insurers, because they are classified as preventative care. The CDC also provides resources for low-income, uninsured and underinsured women to receive screenings.
Now that you’re equipped with the facts, don’t hesitate to take your mom, daughter, sister or friend to get a mammogram.
– Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists, PC has seven physicians with offices in Canton and Woodstock. 770-720-7733. www.cherokeewomenshealth.com.