Here’s the real score about mammograms and why encouraging more people to get it can save lives
Heading to the doctor, even if it’s just for regular checkup, can be a little daunting. However, regular checkups and tests are necessary in maintaining good health and wellbeing. Forget the old adage that goes: “what you don’t know won’t hurt you.” When it comes to our health, what you know early on can save your life.
This is especially true with breast cancer and mammograms. Did you know that people have a 99% survival rate for breast cancer if it’s detected early? It’s also important to note that breast cancer doesn’t just affect women, it also affects men. So, encourage and support your male friends and spouses to have themselves checked, too!
In celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re breaking down some myths and truths about mammograms and how you can move from awareness to action.
MYTH 1: Breast-self exams are enough, I don’t need to get a mammogram.
It’s encouraged that women and men check their breasts regularly through a self-breast exam to feel for any unusual lumps in their chest and armpits. However, some masses are too small to be felt, or sometimes there aren’t any physical changes that are visible, so mammograms are highly recommended to accurately check for any suspicious masses. This is key to detecting breast cancer in its early stages.
Even if you don’t a family history of breast cancer, it’s still advised that you have yourself scheduled for a mammogram as 75% of cases of women diagnosed with breast cancer don’t have a family history.
In addition, though rare, men can also be afflicted with breast cancer. In 2021, according to breastcancer.org, around 2,650 men are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer, with an estimated 20% of those cases leading to death.
But there is good news! According to the American Cancer Society, if detected early, people with early-stage breast cancer have an impressive 99% survival rate, living cancer-free to at least five years after treatment. In later stages of breast cancer, the number falls to just 27%.
MYTH 2: My doctor didn’t prescribe a mammogram, so I don’t need one.
In any case wherein you have concerns regarding your health, it is best to consult your doctor. They are the best persons to provide advice, diagnose, and treat your condition.
However, should your doctor forget to remind you, you can request a mammogram for yourself, especially if you are a woman, age 40 and above. You don’t need a doctor’s prescription for a mammogram, so you can take your health into your own hands.
MYTH 3: Mammograms are dangerous because of the radiation emitted.
A mammogram uses X-rays to capture images deep in our tissues. And like your typical chest X-ray, radiation exposure from a mammogram is minimal. So, yes, the exam is generally safe.
The radiation dose from a mammogram is very low and is equivalent to about two months of background radiation (the same radiation we’re exposed to daily).
Plus, if you are healthy, you are only recommended to take a mammogram every 1 to 2 years for women over 40. To ensure utmost safety, always have your mammogram done at an accredited facility.
Awareness surrounding breast cancer is incredibly important as early detection can catch the disease when it’s most treatable. Having a health plan in place in case you do get sick will also give you the peace of mind to focus on improving your health and getting better.
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