The American Cancer Society recommends that women 40 years or older receive an annual mammogram. Getting an annual mammogram helps you and your doctor see any changes that may occur, and can be an important part of the early detection of breast cancer.
Mehmet Bayram, MD, is an Obstetrician/Gynecologist at DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital. “Even if you are in good health and do not have any symptoms of breast cancer, a consistent record of mammograms can reveal any changes in your breast tissue,” says Dr. Bayram. “Your first mammogram is your baseline, against which newer images are compared. Keep a record of the dates of each mammogram, along with results, if you have them.”
The Benefits of an annual mammogram:
- Mammograms find all types of lumps, 80 percent of which are benign
- High-quality images can help detect 85 to 90 percent of all breast cancers
- Mammograms reveal breast cancers at early stages, before you can feel a lump
- Early detection leads to effective treatment and increases your five-year survival rate to 95 percent or higher, and treatment for early-stage breast cancer is less aggressive
What about women younger than 40?
“If you are in your 20s and 30s, you should receive a clinical breast exam along with your annual physical,” says Dr, Mehmet. “Your family doctor, nurse practitioner, or gynecologist can do your clinical breast exam. It’s a good time to ask any questions about your breast health, and note any changes due to age, pregnancy, surgery, or other health conditions.”
What about a Breast Self-Exam?
You can start doing your breast self-exam when you’re in your 20s, or you can ask your health professional best age to start. Your family medical history and risk for breast cancer will be a factor in that decision. Always report any change in look or feel of your breast to your doctor.
If you’re not sure how to do your self-exam properly, ask your health professional for help. Set aside a regular monthly time for your self-exam, so you can compare breast tissue at the same time of your menstrual cycle. Breasts do swell and are tenderer at different phases of your cycle, so plan ahead for your own comfort and consistency.
Changes to take note of are:
- swelling or bump(s)
- rash or skin redness (inflammation)
- dimpled skin (similar to an orange peel)
- unusual pain in your breast or nipple
- nipple pulling inward
- nipple discharge (not breast milk)
Download our Health for Life Apps:
Follow us on: