October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The stores are painted in pink products, social media profiles are adorned with pink ribbon badges and many take to the streets, walking in remembrance of loved ones and survivors. With the influx of informational sources available today, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the different messaging and lose focus on the objective of Breast Cancer Awareness: to encourage women to take a pro-active role in their health. Sometimes, it can take just one test to save a life – a mammogram screening test.
Know the facts about mammogram screenings:
- What is it exactly? Great question. A mammogram screening is simply an x-ray of breast tissue.
- Why should I get one? Because early detection is crucial. The screening detects abnormalities in breast tissue that a self-exam might miss, and can sometimes catch cancerous cells years before you or a doctor could feel a lump.
- How long does it take? Not long. While it can be uncomfortable, it shouldn’t be painful and usually only takes 15-30 minutes.
- When should I get my first mammogram screening? A baseline screening is recommended between the ages of 35-40. After 40, the American Cancer Society recommends yearly exams.
- Do I need a referral or script? Your primary care physician or OB-GYN will prescribe a mammogram during your annual exam. If you are in your mid-to-late thirties, don’t hesitate to inquire about the timing of your first screening. It often depends on several factors. Once you have a prescription, the next step is important: schedule the appointment.
- Don’t underestimate self-exams! Monthly breast self-exams are also important for early detection. If you have questions on how to perform an accurate self-exam, ask your primary care physician or OB GYN.
If this blog post reminds just one woman to schedule a mammogram screening, then it is worth it. Share this post with your sisters, friends, mother and aunts to help spread the awareness and be a part of the cause. A simple reminder and the inconvenience of a 30 minute screening could make a difference in the life of a woman you love.