Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines To Change
October is a bittersweet month for me. All of the wonderful pink that we see this time of year is a reminder that so many more people know about the importance of breast cancer screening. The site of that pink is also a reminder of that awful disease that took the life of my sister. Had we as a society been more aware of the importance of annual checkups and screenings twenty years ago she might still be with us on the planet.
The importance of screenings and early detection have been shown to be most effective in dealing with breast cancer. However the best screenings and medical technology in the world can't help anyone if they don't plan a visit to their doctor or clinic.
The American Cancer Society has been leading the way in educating Americans, both men and women, on the importance of mammograms, screenings, and self-examination. This year they have made changes in their suggested guidelines for screenings.
The new guidelines suggest annual mammograms begin at age 45, although it is suggested that women speak to their doctors about starting mammograms as early as the age of 40. Since we are obviously not doctors, the best advice we can give any woman at any age is to begin a dialogue with your health care provider and make sure you know what is right for you.
Here are the new recommendations from The American Cancer Society.
- Women with an average risk of breast cancer – most women – should begin yearly mammograms at age 45.
- Women should be able to start the screening as early as age 40, if they want to. It’s a good idea to start talking to your health care provider at age 40 about when you should begin screening.
- At age 55, women should have mammograms every other year – though women who want to keep having yearly mammograms should be able to do so.
- Regular mammograms should continue for as long as a woman is in good health.
- Breast exams, either from a medical provider or self-exams, are no longer recommended
I can tell you personally breast cancer, or any cancer for that matter, is not a disease that affects just an individual. It affects a whole family so it is up to all of us, as a family, to be supportive and offer encouragement to those people that we love to have these annual mammograms, screenings, and check-ups.