Breast Health: Itís Up to You

National Mammography Day is October 17.

About 192,000 new cases of breast cancer occur each year in the
United States, and a woman has a one in eight chance of developing the disease at some time in her life, according to the National Cancer Institute. With October designated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, take an active role in your health on National Mammography Day, Oct. 21.

yle="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Verdana;">Successful treatment of breast cancer depends on an early diagnosis. Regular mammograms help you to monitor the health of your breasts and to seek treatment for any problems before they become major. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration reports that mammograms can detect almost 90 percent of cancers in women over age 50 up to two years before a cancerous tumor can be felt. There are two types of mammograms:

Screening mammograms are performed regularly for women who have no specific concern or complaint about their breast health. In a screening mammogram, X-rays are used to view breast tissue and any possible lumps well before they can be felt through a breast self-exam. A screening mammogram is recommended every one to two years once a woman turns 40, then once a year after age 50. Screening mammograms may begin at an earlier age if there’s a family history of breast cancer.

Diagnostic mammograms are performed for women who have a specific concern or complaint about their breast health. These procedures are more detailed than screening mammograms. Diagnostic mammograms are mostly used with women who have breast implants or a history of breast cancer.

yle="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Verdana;">If you feel nervous about a screening mammogram, try doing the following:

yle="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Verdana;">• Learn the details of the procedure so you know exactly what’s going on. The Imaginis Web site ( ) offers detailed, physician-edited information about mammography and breast cancer prevention and treatment.

Find a mammography facility at which you feel comfortable. If the atmosphere seems inviting and the technicians are courteous and helpful, you will be less nervous.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the technician who is giving the exam. It’s your body. You have a right to know what’s happening to you.

Talk to the technician so that you can do breast compression (flattening of the breast for optimum X-ray viewing) yourself. Though breast compression may be uncomfortable, having it under your own control minimizes any pain.

If you have an unpleasant mammography at one place, seek another medical provider. Don’t forget to take the mammogram files from your old provider, so that your new provider will have a basis for comparison.

For more information, visit the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month Web site at

Concerned About Breast Cancer?

  • Breast Cancer Awareness for Pregnant, Nursing Women

  • Get the latest breast cancer screening guidelines from the American Cancer Society.

  • More about Breast Cancer Awareness

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