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Everything You Want To Know About When And How To Get A Mammogram
October 28, 2021
Breast cancer impacts Black women in ways that are different and more devastating than their counterparts.
“Black women are a special group within the demographic of people trying to be screened for breast cancer and who we are trying to detect early breast cancer in,” said Dr. Kavita Patel, Chief of Radiology At Lenox Health Greenwich Village Northwell Health. The distinction is made “for a couple of reasons which include that their mortality rate is actually much higher than that of the general population.”
According to the American Cancer Society “screening reduces mortality for cancers of the breast, colon, rectum, cervix, and lung.” Dr. Patel and Jessica Shepherd, MD, Verywell Health’s Chief Medical Officer shared everything you need to know about getting a mammogram to screen for breast cancer with ESSENCE.
Breast cancer can affect anyone no matter their gender and caregivers are affected as well so this information is vital for everyone in your household.
Find out how to schedule a mammogram, what you can expect during your mammogram and what takes place afterwards below.
You Can Assess Your Risks
Mammograms can not be scheduled without a prescription from a physician. They make their recommendations for these prescriptions based on risk factors, including age.
“The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends delaying screening mammograms until the age of 50 but ultimately, the choice to get a mammogram is up to the individual patient. If you’re concerned about a symptom you’re experiencing or would like a checkup in general, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask your doctor if a mammogram would be right for you,” said Dr. Shepherd.
Dr. Patel recommended that those who do not meet the age requirements for mammography consider assessing their risks on their own and taking any information they obtain to their doctor.
“There are various tools out there on the internet,” she said. She explained that these include “risk-based calculators that have been developed by various cancer based organizations in which you can plug in certain historical facts about yourself, like your family history, your history of other diseases, your weight, your height,” and “even certain questions like when you first had your period, whether you not or not, you had children questions like this, and the answers to those questions will determine your risk for developing breast cancer.”
“The average risk, you know, for somebody who is not at elevated risk is 15% over the course of their life,” she added. “If your number is 20% or above, then you are considered to be in a quote unquote high risk category. And once you fall into that high risk category, then it is appropriate for you to start your mammography screening at an earlier age than the average population of the average woman.”