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What You Need To Know | Breast Screening: Women Should Start Them At Age 40

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BY KJ HIRAMOTO

khiramoto@hickoryrecord.com

HICKORY — Catawba Radiological Associates Radiologist Chandra Baker said the key is to detect the problem much sooner, rather than later. In fact, Catawba Radiology’s website encourages women to start breast screening at the age of 40.

Baker, who has been with Catawba Radiology for almost eight years, said the purpose of the screening procedure is to detect the cancer before it becomes clinically evident.

“The earlier a cancer is found, the easier it is to treat and the better the prognosis,” Baker said. “With routine screening mammography, tumors smaller than a pea can often times be detected.”

Annual screening mammography starting at age 40 reduces breast cancer mortality by 30 percent, Catawba Radiology’s website says. The clinic’s local data also indicates nearly 20 percent of thecancers detected by a screening mammogram were in women ages 40-49, and 40 percent of the life years lost to breast cancer arein women diagnosed in their 40s.

How it works

Baker said the current primary method for women of average risk is mammography and that includes both conventional screen film mammography, full-field digital mammography and the newest 3D mammography.

She added for women who are found to have dense breast tissue, some places in the country perform whole breast screening ultrasound. Baker said in Catawba Radiology’s case, they have found that 3D mammography works very well for women with dense breast tissue.

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Catawba Radiological Associates Radiologist Chandra Baker says the purpose of the screening procedure is to detect the cancer before it becomes clinically evident.

As for women who are at markedly increased risk of developing breast cancer such as those with a breast cancer gene, Baker said screening with MRI may be recommended.

Catawba Radiology’s website says if you are having your mammograms performed at a different location than your previous mammogram, bring your old mammograms with you to your next appointment. Many facilities won’t do mammograms until they have the patient’s old images for comparison.

Preventative measures

While there is no surefire way to prevent breast cancer, there are plenty of methods and changes women could make in their everyday lifestyle to lower the risk.

Baker suggests limiting alcohol consumption, controlling body weight and limiting radiation exposure as means of lowering the risk for most women. Baker said that how much the risk may be reduced is not known.

She added that circumstances are associated with increased risk include nulliparity, giving birth at a later age, early menarche and late menopause.

For more information on mammograms, visit the Catawba Radiological Associates’ website at www.catawbaradiology.com.

This article was originally published in the Pink Pages section of the Hickory Daily Record on October 20,2016.

 


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