2020 is shaping up to be one crazy year. I am proud of our local community for staying strong in the face of so many diverse challenges. As the world’s craziness swirls around us, I believe it is essential to focus on things we can control. Remember to take good care of ourselves and take time to refresh and renew.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. One critical way to take care of ourselves and focus on things we can control is to make sure we are up to date on our cancer screenings. For women over age 40, this includes getting regular mammograms done to screen for breast cancer.
As I discuss mammograms with my patients, I often hear variations of the following concerns:
- “I am swamped and do not have time.”
You are busy. You have many demands on your time. Taking the time to take care of yourself helps keep you healthy and strong so you can stay on top of all the busy aspects of your life for many years into the future.
- “I don’t want to know if I have cancer.”
Screening mammograms can find cancers 2-3 years before you or your healthcare provider would be able to feel the cancer lump. Those years make a big difference in improving your chance of cancer survival. Choosing to ignore cancer leads to a low probability of survival.
- “I have been told mammograms cause more harm than good.”
Mammograms use low doses of radiation, similar to an x-ray. The amount of radiation in a mammogram is similar to the amount of radiation everyone is exposed to by living on earth for about seven weeks. There is no evidence that screening mammograms cause breast cancer. There is also no evidence that mammograms cause damage to breast tissue.
- “I was told that mammograms do not save lives.”
Mammograms are the gold standard best tool we have to find breast cancer early and start treatment. Early breast cancer treatment is the best way to increase the chance of breast cancer survival. We know that screening mammograms reduce the risk of death from breast cancer at least 20%. More recent studies looking at the newer mammogram techniques show that the risk of death from breast cancer is reduced by more than 40% when women get screening mammograms.
I am well aware that there is a lot of misinformation around us. On any given day, your social media feed likely has a post from someone disparaging some healthcare system aspect. One frequent topic is to spread misinformation about mammograms. It is normal to wonder: What information can I trust? I cannot fight all the misinformation in the world that you may come across, but you can be confident in this time of uncertainty: Mammograms Save Lives. And they may save yours.
Here are links to reliable breast cancer information:
Matthew Walton, DO
Canyon View Medical Group