October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the most important time of the year to increase awareness, show support, and get your annual mammogram if you haven’t already. On average, someone is diagnosed with breast cancer every two minutes in the United States. Don’t wait until it’s too late; breast cancer is much easier to treat if it is detected early.
A mammogram is an x-ray used to show abnormal areas in the breast and ultimately look for early signs of breast cancer. Mammograms can detect cancer before you even feel a lump, which is why they are arguably the best way to prevent breast cancer. Have the conversation with your doctor today to discuss your personal risk and how often you should get screened.
According to the American Cancer Society:
- Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so.
- Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
- Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening.
Along with routine screenings, you can also take care of yourself by doing periodic self-breast exams and paying attention to how your breasts look and feel. You should report any symptoms such as lumps, pain or changes in size to your doctor immediately. It’s better to be extra cautious to give yourself some peace of mind.
This month, talk to your friends and family about the importance of mammograms and taking care of yourself. Take the responsible approach and remember, the best protection is early detection.
Dr. Fares Sweis, board certified family medicine doctor, sees patients at Mercyhealth McHenry. In McHenry County, Mercyhealth provides mammograms and breast health services in Crystal Lake, Harvard, McHenry and Woodstock. Ask your doctor for a referral to have a mammogram at the Mercyhealth location most convenient for you.