No one wants to have breast cancer, but if you do, it’s better to find out right away.
That’s where mammography comes in. Screening catches cancer early, when treatment can be more successful. Women with smaller tumors and cancer that hasn’t spread beyond their breasts are more likely to survive the disease and need less extensive surgery.
Mammograms Save Lives
According to the American Cancer Society, the chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer during her life is about 1 in 8 and the chance of dying from breast cancer is about 1 in 36. However, the overall death rate from breast cancer has declined in recent decades. This is thought to be the result of detecting the cancer earlier and better treatment.
Talk with your doctor about the screening schedule that’s right for you. The American Cancer Society recommends women begin having a yearly mammogram and clinical breast exam at age 40, and continue as long as they’re in good health. If you have Medicare part B, a screening mammogram every 12 months is covered in most cases.
Do you need one more reason to get that mammogram? Consider your risk. You’re more likely to develop breast cancer as you age. For example, approximately 1 out of 8 invasive breast cancers are found in women younger than 45 years of age, while about 2 of 3 invasive breast cancers are found in women age 55 or older.
If you’ve been having mammograms for a long time, you may have noticed how mammography has advanced over the years. Many facilities now offer digital mammograms and 3-D mammograms, and screening involves a safe, lower level of radiation than in the past.
At the same time, medical advances have made breast cancer treatment more effective than ever before. Radiation treatments for instance, once required daily treatments for weeks. These treatments now can involve higher doses over a shorter amount of time—and work just as well.
The American Cancer Society estimates that almost 300,000 American women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis this year. With proper treatment, many of them will soon join the ranks of the 2.8 million breast cancer survivors. These women have heard these four joyful words: “You’re now cancer-free.”
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“Is my test, item, or service covered?” Medicare.gov (managed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services). www.medicare.gov/coverage/mammograms.html.
“Mammograms.” Medicare.gov, 2013. www.medicare.gov/coverage/mammograms.html.
“Mammograms.” National Cancer Institute, March 25, 2014. www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/detection/mammograms/print.
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“Modern mammography screening and breast cancer mortality: population study.” H. Weedon-Fekjær et al. BMJ. June 17, 2014, vol. 348, pp. 1-8.
“Why Get Screened?” American Cancer Society. www.cancer.org/healthy/toolsandcalculators/remind-me.
“Targeted Therapy.” American Cancer Society. www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/TreatmentTypes/TargetedTherapy/targeted-therapy-types.
“Use of Mammograms in Women Aged 40>Years: United States, 2000-2005.” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5603a1.htm.
“What’s New in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment?” American Cancer Society. www.cancer.org/Cancer/BreastCancer/DetailedGuide/breast-cancer-new-research.
“How many women get breast cancer?” http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/overviewguide/breast-cancer-overview-key-statistics