Though it's not a traditional fall color, when October rolls around, many of us think pink. Sports teams wear special uniforms, store shelves are filled with pink packaging, and people wear pink ribbons—all signs of solidarity and support for those affected by breast cancer.
Pink ribbons are also a gentle reminder of the importance of screening mammograms, a vital part of early detection of breast cancer, says UR Medicine radiologist Dr. Avice O’Connell, who specializes in breast imaging.
Some women ask: Are mammograms really necessary? There’s been so much talk about who needs one and how often we should get them, casting doubt on their importance for women who lead such busy lives—working, keeping up the household, managing schedules, arranging carpools, and checking in on aging parents.
It’s easy to put off these kinds of routine health screenings—but do you really want to roll the dice with breast cancer? Unchecked, it can be deadly—a frightening thought.
A mammogram could save your life. Consider these facts:
- Breast cancer affects one out of every eight women in the U.S.
- Mammograms are the most effective way to detect breast cancer in its early stages.
- A mammogram can find a lump often years before it can be felt in a breast exam.
- When breast cancer is detected early, you may have more treatment options.
Every day, we study images captured during mammograms. When we detect a tiny mass—so small no one felt it—there is no doubting the test's importance. In cases like that, without a mammogram, the woman would not have known she had cancer until the lump was larger and required aggressive care.
If you’re age 40 or over, you need a mammogram every year.
If you are younger than 40, and any women in your family have faced breast cancer, talk with your doctor about your risk of the disease and how often you need to be screened.
Avice O’Connell, M.D., is director of UR Medicine Breast Imaging, which provides mammograms and other breast imaging, such as MRI and ultrasound. You can schedule a mammogram at UR Medicine’s many locations by calling (585) 487-3300.