Going for an annual mammogram is one of the most important screenings in women’s healthcare. It’s necessary for long-term breast health and the detection of breast cancer. Early detection has been identified as one of the most impactful factors in increasing breast cancer survival.
Therefore, you should think about undergoing breast testing if you haven’t been in many years. Additionally, if you’re wondering when the right time is for you to go, consider some of the conditions below.
With that being said, here are the top five reasons you should schedule an annual mammogram:
- Your Breasts Are Dense
Breasts are made up of glands, as well as connective and fat tissue. Breast density describes how much of this glandular, connective tissue and breast tissue is contained in your breasts compared to fat tissue. This means that density measures the density of breast tissue and has nothing to do with how much your breasts weigh. Dense breasts have more connective tissue than fat tissue.
Having dense breasts increases your risk of developing cancer. What’s more, breast density has been known to hide cancer because it’s difficult to see through. This is why it’s crucial to get your annual screening. And according to a study published here, having digital mammography screening can help check whether everything is fine.
Furthermore, breast density can only be determined by a healthcare practitioner such as an OB-GYN. Self-examination and weighing your breasts for heaviness won’t tell you if you have dense breasts. Radiologists are the specialists who conduct the mammogram by using X-rays. These radiographic images will then show if you have dense breasts.
- You’ve Had Breast Cancer Before
Whether you’re in remission or you’ve undergone successful breast cancer treatments before, it’s still ideal to go for an annual checkup. This is because in many cases, mastectomies or chemotherapy don’t destroy all cancer cells entirely. Some breast cancer cells can stay behind to form new growths over time, causing breast cancer to reoccur.
A previous breast cancer diagnosis can increase your risk of recurrence, even months to years after treatments. This can include developing new breast cancer in the opposite breast as your original one. The recurrence can also happen in the same area as before or spread to other parts of the body.
It’s estimated that recurrence has around 3-15% likelihood within the first decade after your treatments. There are other factors such as genetics that can also determine your risk. In relation to this, having a family history with a first-degree relative with breast cancer is an additional reason to go for a mammogram appointment.
- You’re Over The Age of 40
Getting older can increase the possibility of getting breast cancer. This is why you should go for your screening once you’ve reached 40 years old. Additionally, research has shown that most breast cancers are detected in women who are around 50 years old. Starting your annual mammogram tests a decade earlier is for caution.
One of the main reasons breast cancer risk increases with age is due to how the human body changes as people get older. During the aging process, your body has a reduced ability to heal, repair, and fight off illnesses. This makes cancer a medium to high risk factor in the final stages of your reproductive years.
Aside from this, you don’t have to wait until you’re 40 to book a mammogram appointment. Many women begin checkups as young as 35. In this case, you can speak to your healthcare provider or doctor to consult on what’s the best age for you to start your annual screening.
- You Started Menstruation Early Or Menopause Late
Exposure to certain hormones either too early or a little late can slightly impact the likelihood of developing breast cancer. This can be in girls and women who started periods before age 11 and experience late-onset menopause after 55 years old.
If you happen to fall into this category or both, then it can benefit your long-term breast health to schedule annual mammograms. Most of the data has shown that early menstruation and late menopause cancer risk can be linked to estrogen.
Starting your period early means that your body will have had a longer exposure to this hormone throughout your life. The same goes for late menopause and having a longer elevated hormone duration. These female hormones are involved in breast cell growth during puberty. As such, the longer they’ve been secreted by your body, the more chances of abnormal growths and mutations developing to become breast cancer.
‘Early detection saves lives’ is a common phrase in breast cancer awareness. It can be a useful reminder to you why it’s vital to schedule a mammogram appointment per year. Also, as you’ve seen above, there are several situations that can increase the risk of getting breast cancer. They’re also the main reasons why you shouldn’t miss out on your screenings.
Mammograms should become part of your long-term health approach. In doing this, you can ensure that your breasts are healthy and get the help you need if any conditions are discovered.