October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Special Article for Bonners Ferry Living Local
WHAT IS A MAMMOGRAM? A mammogram is an x-ray study of the breast. Usually 2 views are obtained of each breast. The overall mammogram study radiation dose is approximately equal to being outside on 20 summer days. The mammogram study takes approximately 20 minutes. There is some discomfort due to compressing the breast tissue to obtain a clear diagnostic image, but it is well worth the short-term discomfort.
WHY GET A MAMMOGRAM? There are many reasons why a woman should get a mammogram. Mammograms can identify a lump up to 2 years before it can be felt. The earlier breast cancer is found the better the outcome. The best weapon against breast cancer is early detection. The 5 year relative survival rates for patients who have early breast cancer detected with mammography is 100% according to the National Cancer Institute.
WHO SHOULD GET A MAMMOGRAM AND WHEN? In the United States the Preventative Services Task Force Mammogram Guidelines recommend women begin screening at age 50 and the American Cancer Society recommends screening to begin at age 45. Other medical organizations recommend screening beginning at age 40. If the woman begins screening at age 50 annual mammograms should follow. If the woman begins at 40 or 45, depending on her family history and circumstances annual mammograms are recommended, however, every other year would also be reasonable until age 50 followed by annual mammograms. Women should continue with mammography until age 75 and thereafter it is up to the patient whether she should continue annual follow-up.
Approximately 230,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018. However, mammograms are the best form of early detection and can save your life. There are more than 2.5 million survivors of breast cancer in the United States. In Boundary County I’m quite sure that you know or may know of a breast cancer survivor. Or possibly, you are a breast cancer survivor. I have been the primary physician interpreting mammograms at Boundary Community Hospital for the past 18 years and I can attest that we have discovered numerous early cancers of women who are cancer free since the diagnosis and treatment. In fact, mortality rates for breast cancer have declined in the past 20 years by 31% nationally.
Boundary Community Hospital has been performing mammograms for over 3 decades. We have state of the art digital mammography. We recommend that patients who have extremely dense breasts have a 3-D mammogram (tomosynthesis). In some cases an MRI breast study, ultrasound, or biopsy may be necessary to exclude a breast cancer.
Incidentally, men can also develop breast cancer even though it is 100 times less likely than women who develop breast cancer. Any adult male, usually older males, who develops a breast lump should see his physician to determine if a mammogram is indicated. Most male breast lumps are due to hormonal changes and or medications.
If you have any questions concerning mammography please feel free to call Boundary Community Hospital radiology at 208-267-3141, extension 4258.
Michael Melendez, MD
Certified by the American Board of Radiology