October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an important opportunity to assess one’s risk for breast cancer.
“There is no such thing as any woman being low risk for breast cancer,” says Dr. Caren Greenstein, Director of Breast Imaging at White Plains Hospital. “The numbers tell us that one in eight women in this country will develop it.”
In fact, experts expect deaths from breast cancer to rise 10% in 2025 due to missed breast cancer screenings during the pandemic. The most important step women can take is to be proactive about their health and speak with their physician about getting screened for the disease.
Who Should Get a Mammogram?
Guidelines for when to start regular screening often lead to different recommendations from medical organizations. At White Plains Hospital, we follow the American College of Radiology recommendations and suggest healthy women without high-risk factors is to start getting mammograms yearly at age 40.
However, doctors suggest that certain groups of women with specific risk factors start even sooner – as early as age 30. Women who may be at higher risk include those who have a family history of breast cancer, especially if a first or second-degree relative developed breast cancer at a young age. Breast cancer in certain ethnicities, such as African American, Asian and Hispanic women, typically is diagnosed over a decade earlier than for Caucasian women (which is in their 60s).
For those women who may be considered high-risk, a law passed in New York in 2019, “Shannon’s Law,” requires large insurance companies in New York to cover mammograms in women aged 35 to 39 upon the recommendation of a physician, making early detection and treatment more likely.
While statistics show that the majority of tumors are found in women over 50, younger women are not immune to the risk. “Today, we are seeing some younger patients, including some patients in their twenties, with breast cancer,” she says.
Don’t Be a Statistic!
If your last mammogram took place before the pandemic, that means more than two years have gone by without the essential screening you need to catch breast cancer early. While that might not seem like a big deal, tumors can begin to grow and advance in that relatively short span of time.
There is no excuse not to get back on track with your mammograms – or start if you haven’t already.
To find out more or to schedule an appointment, visit wphospital.org/mammo.