Did you know that routine mammograms save lives?
Mammograms -- X-ray pictures of the breast -- are used to check for cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease. Think about it this way -- wouldn't it be better to learn if a perfectly normal looking bridge has a cracked foundation before it actually collapses?
This is the miracle of mammograms -- their ability to locate tumors before they can even be felt, which allows for earlier potentially life-saving treatment.
Breast cancer is the number two cause of cancer-related deaths in women in the United States. Fortunately, with treatment, the prognosis for women with early breast cancer is usually positive. Ninety percent of women diagnosed with early breast cancer, usually detected by a mammogram, survived at least 5 years after their diagnosis.
It's crucial to have a strong relationship with your doctor, so consider that the very first step of taking care of your overall health. Talk to your doctor about when you might want to consider starting to have breast cancer screenings. As a team, you can decide what's best for you based on your risk level.
If you're unsure what to ask or tell your doctor, here are a few things you can ask about at your next appointment:
- What is the role of mammograms in early detection of breast cancer?
- What's your risk of breast cancer?
- Are there risks or limitations to mammograms?
- How does your family's medical history factor in?
- What role can breast self-exams play in helping you become more familiar with your breasts, which may then help you find abnormalities or changes?
- What are the benefits of a clinical breast exam by your doctor?
Once you've discussed mammograms with your doctor, you will hopefully feel empowered to decide if you think having regular cancer screening is right for you. With the success of treating early cancer found by mammogram, your friends and family will likely thank you for pursuing lifelong health and wellness.
This story was written for our sponsor, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina.