A Better Way to Screen for Breast Cancer
Breast cancer, like any cancer or illness, increases in likelihood as we get older. For women, scans and mammograms are often put off until they hit fifty or more years of age because that can be when the cancer is most active, however some people who need mammograms aren’t getting them and others are getting mammograms when they are not needed.
What can change?
Various doctors and groups have expressed a desire to change mammogram recommendations to be based on factors such as breast density to ensure the people getting mammograms actually need the procedure. A high breast density can increase the risk for cancer, and according to the group 40% of women have dense breast tissue and 95% don’t know their breast destiny.
Scanning differently for dense breasts can help detect the early stages of breast cancer, especially with 3-D mammograms that quicken the process by studying the breast by taking various scans from different angles, and then putting them together. A tumor can be seen much easier in this 3-D scanner than in traditional 2-D, which can make the cancer easier to detect in certain stages.
Why does this matter?
Tailored and specific guidelines can also help women avoid false positives or false alarms for cancer and the time and stress of going through an unnecessary mammogram. Annual screening is only recommended at around ages 45-54, and then women can change the rate of screenings to every two years if they have no history of breast cancer as they get older.
The best thing a woman can do besides keeping herself healthy is to know her breast density and talk with her doctors about what that means for her and what she must do to ensure she gets the adequate amount of screenings to minimize her risk.