Regular breast exams should be a part of every woman’s life.
“Some people may say no one in my family has ever had breast cancer,” said Dr. Randy W. Cooper, of University Hospital’s Breast Health Center. “The bottom line is 80 percent of those who get breast cancer, no one in their family had breast cancer.”
Women should schedule mammograms 12 months apart, he said.
Studies have shown that women who have annual mammograms have a higher survival rate from breast cancer than those who do not, Cooper said.
“If you can find it before you can feel it, you’re less likely to have cancer in your lymph nodes,” he said.
Even when having annual mammograms, women should not underestimate the importance of breast self-exams.
“Approximately 15 to 20 percent of the time, a mammogram will not show breast cancer,” he said. “Sometimes you can have breast cancer, but it won’t show up. So it’s important to do both.”
Starting at age 20, women should perform breast self-exams once a month and generally, starting at age 40, women should have annual mammograms. A baseline mammogram is suggested at age 35.
If there is a family history of breast cancer, women should ask their doctor about starting annual mammograms at an earlier age.
For more information, go to http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001911.