The Importance of Yearly Mammograms – Exposing Common Myths About Breast Cancer
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a great time to remember to schedule your mammogram! Dr. Arthy Saravanan, the head of the Breast Imaging Section here at ARA Diagnostic Imaging, is live with Trevor Scott on KEYE’s “We Are Austin,” busting common myths and more on why yearly screenings are vital.
[Trevor Scott] Well, good morning, and welcome back to “We Are Austin.”
In case you didn’t know, October is “Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” and it’s a great time to remember to schedule your mammogram. Dr. Arthy Saravanan, the head of the breast imaging section at ARA, is here this morning on why those yearly screenings are so vital.
Dr. Saravanan, it’s so great to see you. Good morning.
[Dr. Arthy Saravanan] Good morning. It’s a pleasure to be here.
[ Trevor] Anytime you’re here, I know we’re having a very important conversation.
People sometimes don’t get mammography screenings for breast cancer because they have heard or made some assumptions that are not true. So, let’s dive right in. What do you hear most in your line of work that you’d like to clear up today?
[Dr. Saravanan] I mean, one of the most common misconceptions I’ve heard is that if I don’t have a family history of breast cancer, then I don’t need to get screening mammography. And, you know, that is a myth because many women I hear, they come and say, hey, my mom, my sister, my cousins, nobody has a history of breast cancer.
Why should I get a screening?
[ Trevor] Right.
[Dr. Saravanan] And, you know, that is a myth. The truth is that a large majority of breast cancers are seen in patients who have no known family history. So, there’s no genetic predisposition. And, these cancers can occur in healthy cells. And this is why it’s so important to get screening mammography.
[ Trevor] Wow. That is very interesting to hear because I know a lot of people do kind of lean on that as “well, I don’t really have any history,” but that’s a very important point to know for sure.
What is the risk that a woman will get breast cancer?
[Dr. Saravanan] You know, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. The good news is that more than 98% of these cancers are survivable and treatable, especially when they’re detected early by screening mammograms.
[ Trevor] Yeah, early detection is so important. That’s a recurring theme when we speak with ARA Diagnostic Imaging. Right? You got to get in there.
It sounds like every woman should be screened starting at 40. Are there any other myths? And I know that age is even changed over the years. What are some of the other myths that you would like to bust today?
[Dr. Saravanan] Yeah, I mean, one of the other myths I see is women sometimes believe that breast cancer risk is associated with the size of the breast.
[ Trevor] Interesting.
[Dr. Saravanan] So they say that, you know, I have small breasts, so I don’t really… there’s no chance of me getting breast cancer. You know, this is a myth. In fact, the breast cancer risk is not really associated with breast size at all. Sometimes a smaller breast, we do see more dense breast tissue. And this actually might increase your risk of breast cancer.
[ Trevor] So it’s all the more important for these women to get their screenings.
It certainly is. That is a really good point, too. I have personally heard of that particular myth. It’s nice to know that we are busting those today.
So, what about how old women are when they’re diagnosed? Is that just older women? Where does that lie?
[Dr. Saravanan] Yeah, good question. You know, breast cancer risk does increase with age. But, you know, the fact is that more than 4% of invasive breast cancers are seen in younger women. Those under the age of 40, actually. You know, I’m not saying this just to scare people or younger women, but I just want to make sure that everyone does get self-breast exams as well as screening mammography, especially if you do have a genetic predisposition, you might have a genetic mutation, or might be high risk for some other reason.
It’s all the more important for you to talk to your healthcare provider so they can recommend that you may get screening even earlier than 40 sometimes.
[ Trevor] Interesting. So may I ask, I guess, so we did say that whether or not… so if you haven’t had genetic, it’s not in your genes or there’s no history of it, that doesn’t mean that you’re not predisposed to it.
If you have had a history in your family, does that mean you’re at an increased risk?
[Dr. Saravanan] You might be at an increased risk. Yes. And those women, they might have what’s called the BRCA1 mutation or some other high-risk mutations. And they might need to get screening mammography even earlier than age 40.
[ Trevor] Okay. Thank you. Thanks for that.
That’s a question that popped up there! So, remind us, why are screening mammograms really so important and potentially life-saving?
[Dr. Saravanan] It’s so important, and that’s definitely not a myth! I mean, screening mammography is important because we can find breast cancers really early. And the smaller the cancers are, the easier they are to treat and to detect and, you know, eventually cure.
Sometimes we have heard women wait two years or three years to get their screening mammograms. And you can imagine a potentially small breast cancer has the time to increase and grow in size, and treatment might be delayed in that case. So, it’s so important to get it starting at the age of 40 and yearly thereafter.
[ Trevor] That is really, really important.
So yearly after that.
[Dr. Saravanan] Correct.
[ Trevor] Excellent. That is really good information. With all this information, I know that not all women out there probably will get mammograms. Do you have an idea of why? Why is that?
[Dr. Saravanan] You know, we live busy lives, and sometimes, especially women, we take care of everyone around us. We work hard, take care of our families, and sometimes we don’t make time for our own breast health.
This is so important, though, and it’s really easy at ARA. You can be in and out in under 30 minutes. We have more than 14 locations across central Texas, so we really make it pretty easy for you to come in and schedule. Hopefully, there’s one close to your work or home, and you know, you can get in and out pretty easily.
So very important, you know, encourage all the women, you know, to get their screening mammograms, for sure.
[ Trevor] Yeah, and especially that you make it so easy. There are locations out there. The information is very important to begin with, but removing those barriers for people to get those are so important. So, schedule yours now or encourage the women in your life to schedule today at ausrad.com.
And Dr. Saravanan, you showed us a picture last year that’s just too good not to run again. We wanted to show this very cool picture with your pink car. Tell us a little bit more about it. Look at that!
[Dr. Saravanan] Yes, I’m very passionate about breast cancer, and I really wanted to show this. I wrapped my car pink to show my support for breast cancer awareness.
So, you know, anytime you see me kind of driving around town, honk and say “hi!” This is with my ARA imaging team here at the Cedar Park Clinic. And, you know, the added bonus is that my daughters, Anya, and Ayla, absolutely love the color of the car.
[ Trevor] I’m sure. And really, this is the year for pink, if ever before, right?
Probably everybody thought it was for Barbie – Hey, it’s breast cancer! It’s more important than that even!
[Dr. Saravanan] Exactly.
[ Trevor] Dr. Saravanan, thank you so much for joining us. We’re going to actually put some information on the screen one more time on how you can get that screening scheduled. It’s ausrad.com. You can always give them a phone call as well.
But scheduling, that is very important. We hope we’ve talked you into that today. Dr. Saravanan, and thanks for this really important information. We appreciate you being here.
[Dr. Saravanan] Thank you, Trevor. Pleasure being here.
[ Trevor] My pleasure. And we’ll be right back with more “We Are Austin” right after this.