What you need to know about mammography
by Dr. Arthy Saravanan
Mammograms save lives.
The key message that we try to convey regarding breast cancer awareness is that starting annual mammograms at age 40 saves lives. It is also vital to get yearly screening mammograms after that.
Many women are unaware that breast cancer is very common – in fact, 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. About one woman will die every 13 minutes. What’s really startling is that many Austin women 40 and over have not started having their annual screening mammograms.
The great news is that, when detected early by a mammogram, 98% of women survive breast cancer. The emphasis is on early detection, which catches cancers when they are more treatable. It’s so important not to wait to have your mammogram. According to the American College of Radiology, women should start getting mammograms at the age of 40 and get screened yearly thereafter. If you have an increased risk or family history of breast cancer, your screenings might need to begin earlier.
Have you put off your mammogram because of COVID-19?
A lot of us have been putting off routine medical appointments for fear of exposure to COVID-19. If you are one of these, we understand. But if you have missed your yearly mammogram, please schedule now. ARA has put a number of safety protocols in place to protect you, including requiring masks of patients, visitors, and employees; screening everyone entering the imaging centers; enhanced cleaning of surfaces and high-touch items like pens, and maintaining social distancing whenever possible. So, make your appointment now! It’s safe to come to ARA.
Mammograms – yearly or every other year?
You may have heard conflicting information about how often to get a mammogram. Research has shown that cancers that are diagnosed in women that have yearly mammograms are more likely to be smaller and more treatable than those found in women who get mammograms every other year. This makes sense – cancer simply has more time to grow and reach a higher stage in two years than it does in one. In fact, 76% of cancers detected in women who have a mammogram every year are early stage versus only 56% of cancers in women who have mammograms every two years. Keep in mind also that insurance in Texas is generally required to cover your mammogram every year, so why wait?
What is the chance that I will be diagnosed with cancer?
Women often wonder when they come for their screening mammograms what the chances are that cancer will be found. Here’s what data tells us:
For every 1,000 women who have a screening mammogram:
• 100 are recalled for further screening
• 20 are recommended for biopsy
• 5 are diagnosed with breast cancer
Excellence in imaging
ARA has completely invested in 3D mammography, an advanced technology that finds up to 41% more cancer than traditional mammography. 3D mammography is now the standard for excellence in mammography and it is available in 11 ARA locations. Everyone at ARA wants to make having a mammogram as easy as possible. We now offer online scheduling for mammograms and extended hours, so you can come after work.
Arthy Saravanan, MD, is a breast imaging specialist at ARA Diagnostic Imaging. Having completed an advanced fellowship in breast imaging, she is an expert at diagnosing breast cancer through the use of mammography, MRI, and ultrasound.