The importance of having regular, recommended screening check-ups.

The most common symptom of breast cancer is usually a new lump or mass. Some women have been known to dismiss early symptoms as being insignificant. However, I want to emphasize that it’s important to have any breast change checked by a medical healthcare provider.

Different diagnostic tests can help identify suspicious abnormalities. If a doctor finds an area of concern on a screening test such as a mammogram, more tests may be needed to know for sure if it’s cancer. 

For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I want to remind women about the importance of having regular, recommended mammograms.

Mammograms

Mammograms are low-dose X-rays of the breast that can help detect cancerous tissues too small to be noticed by self-exams or in-clinic exams. Identifying cancerous tissues in the initial stages means physicians have more treatment options with better chances for favorable patient outcomes.

Results from decades of research show that women having regular mammograms are more likely to have their cancer found earlier and therefore are less likely to need aggressive treatments like surgery to remove the entire breast.

Screening guidelines

  • Starting in their early 20s, women should self-examine their breasts for lumps on a regular basis and have a clinical breast exam by a physician every year.
  • At 40, women at average risk of breast cancer should begin annual mammograms continuing thru age 54, when, upon a physician’s advice, they may switch to every two years. Please be advised: Most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50.
  • Women at higher risk – due to age, underlying health conditions, lifestyle, medical or family history – should begin annual mammograms earlier. Here again, scheduling should be based upon a physician’s recommendation.
  • At 55, women at average risk may continue with every-other-year mammograms until age 75, when scheduling becomes a shared decision between her and her OB/GYN or gynecologist. Whatever their agreed-upon screening schedule, women beyond child-bearing years should continue with doctor-recommended mammograms, well-woman checkups, and Pap tests, as risks of breast and gynecological cancers increase with aging.

Kelsey-Seybold’s Breast Diagnostic Center fast-tracks mammography results. Our motto is no more sleepless nights! Patients won’t have to wait for their diagnoses and, if necessary, to begin follow-up treatment, surgery, and reconstruction.

 

Baker Treneth 

Dr. Treneth Baker is chief of General Surgery and director of Specialty Care at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. 

His specialties include breast cancer diagnosis, surgery, and associated follow-up procedures.