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Why Your Annual Mammogram Screening is Key

This year, over 275,000 new cases of breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed. This condition affects 1 in 8 women, making it one of the most common cancers among women (just under skin cancer). Left unchecked or caught too late, cancer cells in the breasts may spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body. However, breast cancer can be treated. And one of the best ways to prevent the start is with mammogram screenings.

Mammograms are a crucial way for women to detect cancer. If you live in the Garden City and North Massapequa, NY areas, you should make an appointment at FemmPro OB-GYN for a breast exam and to receive your mammogram referral.

Understanding breast cancer

Breast cancer happens when abnormal cells grow in the breast and divide more rapidly than healthy breast cells. This can lead to masses growing in the breasts, and as it worsens, cancer cells spread throughout the body. Most breast cancer starts in the milk ducts but can also grow in the glandular tissue (lobules). Risk factors vary (as breast cancer can happen in men and women), but women are at much higher risk. Other factors include increasing age, personal or family history, obesity, radiation exposure, hormone therapy after menopause, and alcohol.

Understanding mammograms

Mammograms use different methods to detect abnormalities in the breasts and determine if they are cancerous or benign. They include:

Screening mammogram

These are the screenings typically done (like x-rays) to check for any evidence of growths or tumors that may not otherwise be detected. It may also detect other signs of cancer, such as tiny deposits of calcium in the breasts called microcalcifications. These can result in catching cancer early, which is easier to treat.

Diagnostic mammogram

This screening is done after evidence of cancer is detected, like lumps, breast pain, thickening of the skin on the breast, change in breast shape or size, or nipple discharge. Rather than doing an x-ray, this method uses a digital chip to record images. It is acquired faster and provides less discomfort for the patient. It has also proven more effective for younger women, premenopausal women, and women with dense breasts.

Other methods like 3D mammography create a series of layers to examine different types of tissue in the breast. It can also help to reduce the chance of false positives which is important.

How mammograms help

Breast cancer screenings mean that you'll have a better chance of getting treatment sooner with less chance of complications from the cancer spreading. Diagnostic screenings allow physicians to determine whether a tumor is cancerous or benign and can help assess treatment. Different tests may be needed depending on the specific needs of the patient. Having options to get the best results will stop breast cancer before it starts or treating it before it gets worse.

Women should generally start getting annual breast exams around 40 or so, depending on personal or family history. If you are a woman of any age and are dealing with abnormal breast issues, you should start getting exams like mammograms. If you think you may have signs of breast cancer or just haven’t had a breast cancer exam, make an appointment at FemmPro OB-GYN today as part of your Wellness Checklist!

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