Early Detection and Annual Mammograms

Early Detection and Annual Mammograms

So here’s one more reason to be vigilant about annual mammograms: early detection. Early detection means finding a cancer in its most fight-able form. In short, early detection can a cancer diagnosis doesn’t have to be a death sentence. In fact, if caught in it’s earliest stage, the survival rate is a whopping 93%. Those are good odds.

Weren’t we just talking about early detection the other day? Yeah, it happens. But what has happened recently is an article in the American Journal of Roentgenology demonstrated that women who have annual mammograms – if a cancer is found – are more likely to have earlier stage, smaller breast cancers. Women who are inconsistent and less likely to remember their annuals do not run such great odds. This is bad news for women who excuse-out and skip even just a year or two’s worth run the risk of a late stage cancer diagnosis. 

So what makes some women better at getting their annual mammograms than others? There a several factors: The first is women with a positive family history of breast cancer are more vigilant – as they should be. We’ve found this in our practice that women with a first degree relative with breast cancer are often good at having annual mammograms.

Another thing that correlated was women who had more medical encounters during the year were more consistent about getting their annuals. So if you saw your doctor multiple times during the year you were more likely to have annual mammogram.

Additionally, a short travel time to a mammography center also directly related to having annual exams. Lastly, it seems that referral by a primary care doctor is an important part of ladies having their annual study. (It is important to note that some – but not all – insurers do not require a doctor’s order for an annual screening mammogram, so getting a referral can be good prompting but may not be a required step.)

This study reinforces the use of routine screening mammogram as it will decrease the chance of a patient having a later stage breast cancer. This will hopefully decrease the extent of treatment including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. In short, good breast health habits lead to better health results.




Image credit: Residental smoke detector by Oleg Alexandrov, Copyright Public Domain

Originally published 8/30/13 on mammographykc.com.