Friday is National Mammogram Day, so it’s an important time to remember the importance of getting yourself checked for breast cancer.
Health officials say one in eight women will develop breast cancer sometime in her lifetime.
“A woman is at the highest risk of getting breast cancer,” Dr. Andrew Warheit, a radiologist at St. Peters, said.
The doctors at St. Peters say just being a woman puts you at risk of developing breast cancer and that’s why it’s important to not only get screened annually but also to conduct regular self-breast exams.
“If you feel a lump or you feel a change in your breast or something different, you definitely want to contact your physician and get it looked at,” Kathryn Granville, a Breast Center Supervisor, said.
Even if you don’t have any lumps or other red flag symptoms, the experts recommend most women start getting mammograms at age 40, and even earlier for those at higher risk.
“In general, if there’s a family history of breast cancer – parent, grandparent, sibling, that will automatically put you into a higher risk category,” Dr. Warheit said.
Doctors say the actual mammogram takes only 10 minutes or so and the folks at the Breast Center say that even if the process is a little uncomfortable, it could save a life.
“We want to catch cancers when they’re just millimeters, not when they’re centimeters,” Darlene Pesnel, a mammogram technologist, said. “When they’re so big that you can feel them, your prognosis is a lot worse than when we just catch them when they’re tiny. So when you come in, we put your breast on the machine, this comes down slowly and then it just kinda presses and spreads out that inner tissue.”
Getting a mammogram is as easy as scheduling an appointment with your regular doctor.
“They definitely want to first visit their physician, their provider, and just let them know that they’re experiencing a symptom or that they’re due for their annual. Their physician would then write a script for them to come into the center to see us,” Granville said.