In the midst of all the Halloween fun, it is a good idea to take a moment to remember that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This time of the year is designed to bring attention to breast cancer prevention methods such as learning what age you should get a mammogram. This type of test is crucial to early detection of breast cancer. In fact, it is so important that there's an entire day dedicated to it. This health observance holiday is called National Mammography Day and occurs on Friday, Oct. 21. It was created to shed light on the life-changing significance of getting a yearly mammogram.
First, let's take it back to the basics. Breast cancer is the most prevalent diagnosed cancer in American women, aside from skin cancer. Additionally, about one in eight women will be diagnosed with with this chronic disease during her lifetime. And when simply being female is one of the biggest risk factors of developing breast cancer, it's certainly worth thinking about.
Age is another major risk factor. However, breast cancer doesn't just happen overnight. It's a progressive disease that develops over time. And while genetics can play a role, your lifestyle habits and choices matter. The things that you do today will make a difference tomorrow.
That's where a mammogram comes in. This test is an X-ray of the breasts that can detect early signs of cancer. As a result, it will be easier to treat. The American Cancer Society recommends that women can start getting annual mammograms at age 40, if they wish. Otherwise, routine annual mammograms should start at age 45. By the time a woman hits 55, mammograms should be received every other year.
Personal medical history is important to consider. If a woman has a first-degree relative with breast cancer, she should start mammograms at age 30. This higher risk simply means that there should be a closer watch on potential signs of breast cancer. Again, early detection is vital to kicking cancer in the butt as soon as possible.
In a nutshell? The starting age of routine mammograms will differ from woman to woman. It all depends on those risk factors. Otherwise, the general recommendation is 40 years old for women in good health.
In light of National Mammography Day and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, take a moment to learn about your medical history. Acknowledge the prevalence of breast cancer, even if you aren't 30 or 40. You can do this by simply reminding yourself to work toward adopting lifelong healthy habits. Your breasts — and your body — deserve it.
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