In the last couple of weeks we have talked to a breast cancer survivor and heard advice from people who have had treatments for cancer.
This week we hear from a diagnostic radiology specialist who puts getting your mammogram in a whole new perspective.
I spoke with Dr. James Henderson who is the Director of Breast Imaging at UMC and he says, “When it comes to breast cancer it’s been shown that we save more lives when we detect the cancer when it’s smaller so we do that with screening mammograms. So this is something you can make the choice to have the mammogram done. That’s giving us the best opportunity to find the cancer when it’s at the smallest.”
The choice to get the mammogram is the most important thing you can do for you. But when should you start being screened? Dr. Henderson says, “they follow the ACR guidelines and start imaging at the age of 40. And screen every year after that.” He goes on to explain, “we do that because it is backed by a significant amount of literature that shows that we save the most amount of lives when we use that guideline. We can reduce the breast cancer related deaths by 40% when we do that.”
There are two types of mammogram screenings. UMC has only the latest technology which is the 3-D screening. Dr. Henderson says, “a traditional mammogram gives us a 2-D mammogram where the 3-D gives us several slices of the breast. With the 3-D we are able to detect 30% more cancer than with the traditional mammogram.”
Getting your mammogram isn’t a one in five or ten years thing. Dr. Henderson explains why it is so important to do it every single year. “The breast along with the rest of your body evolves over time as we age. The tissues and architecture can change over time. If we can see it evolving over time we can read the screenings better and easier.”
And because going every single year can save your life. Dr. Henderson states, “I always go back to the facts. If we screen every year after 40 we could decrease the Breast Cancer death by 40% and I also remember how common breast cancer is so it can happen in about 12% of women. Some people think if they don’t have a family history or are genetically predisposed that they are in the clear. Only about 30% are genetically based. So 70% is random. It surprises the patient. It’s an easy way to take control of your health care and maximize your chances of catching something early.
So whether it runs in your family or not, being screened is the best way to catch cancer early. You can contact the Breast Imaging Center at UMC to make an appointment by calling them at 806-775-8660.