September 29, 2020

Importance of Mammograms

General Health

There’s no doubt that having regular mammograms is the best way to detect breast cancer. However, you may be wondering when you should start having mammograms and how often you should have one.

Talk to Your Doctor

You should start by talking to your healthcare provider about when you should have a mammogram. When you should have a mammogram depends on a few factors, including:

  • Your age
  • Your breast cancer risk factors
  • Your personal preferences after considering the risks and benefits of breast cancer screening

Your doctor will review these factors and talk to you about the benefits and risks of mammography. Your doctor also will go over the breast cancer screening guidelines and what they mean for you.

Use the Guidelines

Different health and medical organizations each issue their own breast cancer screening guidelines that may be similar but are not exactly the same. And most guidelines only apply to women who have an average risk of developing breast cancer; if you have a higher risk, you might need to begin breast cancer screening at a younger age or have screenings more often.

That’s why it’s so important to talk to your doctor about a personalized recommendation.

However, here are the American Cancer Society’s breast cancer screening recommendations for women with an average breast cancer risk, by age:

  • If you are age 40 to 44, you should talk to your doctor about having routine mammograms. You may choose to start receiving a yearly mammogram.
  • If you are age 45 to 54, you should have a yearly mammogram.
  • If you are age 55 or older, you should have a mammogram at least once every two years or more often if recommended by your doctor.

If you are healthy and expected to live at least 10 more years, you should continue to have mammograms.

Why Mammograms Are Important

Mammograms are an important breast cancer screening tool for women. The National Breast Cancer Foundation estimates over 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year. One in eight women either currently has or will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, and eight out of nine women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease. As breast cancer risk increases with age, mammograms are among the best early detection methods, and early detection is critical. If detected early, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer exceeds 96 percent.

At Fort HealthCare, we use the best available imaging and 3D imaging technology – which helps detect subtle breast tissue changes – ultimately enhancing our ability to detect breast cancer early. We partner with the UW-Health Radiology department for reading and interpretive services. This means that you get the same care and service that you would find at a larger facility, but close to home.

Digital technology called tomosynthesis provides medical professionals with the opportunity to review a 3-dimensional picture of the breast using X-rays. This is different from a standard mammogram where two X-rays of each breast are taken from different angles: top to bottom and side to side. The breast is gently compressed and held between two glass plates to ensure that the whole breast is viewed. Digital mammography records the images on a computer, which are then read by a radiologist.

Genius™ exams deliver a series of detailed breast images, allowing your medical team to better evaluate your breast tissue layer by layer, allowing images to be read with much greater accuracy. Greater accuracy means better breast cancer detection. Only the Genius™ 3D MAMMOGRAM™ is proven to detect breast cancer 15 months earlier. Click here to learn more about mammograms at Fort HealthCare.

You can schedule your mammogram at Fort HealthCare on weekdays, when it is convenient for you, including evenings until 6:00 p.m. Simply call (920) 568-5420. Don’t wait another minute.