Breast cancer screening is so important, and some of us got behind on this during the pandemic. Now that we have COVID vaccines and medications to treat COVID in high risk groups it is a good time to get caught up.
Who Is At High Risk?
Most women are at average risk for breast cancer, but the following are some of the factors that increase risk for breast cancer:
- Personal or family history of breast, ovarian, peritoneal, or tubal cancer
- Ashkenazi Jewish heritage
- If you or a family member are known carriers of breast or ovarian cancer genetic mutation
- High breast density on mammogram
Know that people in high risk groups will have a different screening strategy that will be determined by your doctor and genetic specialists.
What Age Do You Start Getting Mammograms?
Women can start breast cancer screening at the age of 40. Mammograms are less sensitive in younger women, and false positive results can happen. This means the mammogram can come back abnormal and more testing is needed, but after more testing no cancer is found. This can be scary! As women age, this becomes less of an issue because breast density reduces. So if you are in your 40s and getting a mammogram, just know that there is a chance that the mammogram will show a possible problem and a repeat mammogram or more testing is needed. This does not mean you should not get a mammogram in your 40s; breast cancer certainly happens in women that are young. But, it is important to understand that an abnormal result does NOT always mean you have cancer.
It is recommended that all women start getting routine mammograms at age 50.
What If You Do Not Have Health Insurance?
If you do not have insurance we can help you find a facility that offers reduced self-pay prices for mammograms. Planned Parenthood is also a useful resource for people that cannot afford cervical and breast cancer screenings.
What If You Feel a Lump, or Have Nipple Drainage or Other Issue?
Come see your doctor right away! A breast exam will be done and the correct imaging tests will be ordered. Don’t ignore this, we are here to help.