Getting a screening mammogram can be hard to fit into your busy schedule. Between balancing your professional and personal life, it may feel as if you simply do not have the time. With ever-changing screening guidelines, the path towards peace of mind can have multiple routes. So, which one should you take?
What Are the Benefits of Annual Screening Mammograms?
- Improved Detection – Breast tissue changes over time, and annual screening helps detect subtle changes as early as possible – up to 2 years before a doctor or you may detect a lump through a clinical exam or self-exam.
- Reduced Need for Additional Imaging – The baseline of your breast health and year-over-year comparisons decrease the need for additional, more-invasive follow-up imaging, which saves you time and money.
- Insurance Coverage – Most health insurance providers cover the full cost of an annual screening mammogram for women over 40 or under 40 if you have a breast cancer related risk factor such as a family history.
What Are the Risk Factors of Breast Cancer?
Understanding the risk factors associated with breast cancer can help you assess your own susceptibility and take the correct precautions. While some risk factors are beyond control, many of them can be managed by routine monitoring and care. The common risk factors for breast cancer include:
- Age – With natural hormonal changes occurring throughout your 40s, 50s, and 60s, your risk of developing breast cancer increases dramatically. About 80% of women diagnosed with breast cancer annually are ages 45 and older.
- Ethnicity – Your ethnic background can play a role in determining your risk for breast cancer. Caucasian women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than other ethnicities, while African American women are 40% more likely to develop aggressive forms of breast cancer.
- Family History – Having direct relatives (mother, sister, or aunt) who were diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer increases your own risk, especially before the age of 40.
- Genetics – Certain genetic mutations and hormonal changes can influence your risk of developing breast cancer. Women who have an early start of menstruation, use birth control, breast tissue density, and protein gene production (BRCA1 & BRCA 2) are considered genetic predispositions.
- Lifestyle – Certain lifestyle factors can increase your likelihood of developing breast cancer including obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, and low physical activity.
- Reproductive History – Your reproductive history can play a role in your risk of developing breast cancer. Women who had their first pregnancy after 30 or did not breastfeed have an increased risk.
Does it Matter Where I Go?
A common misconception is it doesn’t matter where you go for your annual screening mammogram. However, this is simply not the case. Not all women’s imaging providers are the same, and even their approach towards breast health can vary. So, what does the best breast imaging center look like?
There are a few factors you want to weigh when choosing a breast imaging center. First, a breast imaging center should have subspecialized radiologists interpreting your results. A radiologist who is subspecialized has specific training around a particular area of the body. For an annual screening mammogram, a breast imaging, subspecialized radiologist will have the attention to detail that allows for detailed reports to be developed. The minor details can have a huge impact on diagnosis and treatment planning, if needed.
Second, it is important to make sure the breast imaging center has a comprehensive approach towards your breast health. When you have a trusted, experienced breast imaging expert available no matter where your journey towards wellness takes you, it can make a big difference. Where you go for your annual screening mammogram should be able to help you no matter the circumstances by offering advanced studies that can further evaluate your breast health including MRIs and ultrasounds.
Lastly and most importantly, the right breast imaging center should provide compassionate and convenient care. Between the balancing acts of daily life, an annual screening mammogram should be able to fit your schedule. When researching, look for a breast imaging provider that offers convenient hours and scheduling options, and has a comfortable environment.
Why Should I Choose Touchstone Medical Imaging?
We know the thought of having an annual screening mammogram can be stressful. Touchstone Medical Imaging technologists go the extra mile to make the experience as smooth and hassle-free as possible.
From the moment you arrive at one of our centers, our technologists take the mystery out of your mammogram by answering your questions and telling you exactly what to expect. The technologists will talk you through the scan and, once it’s finished, explain what happens next.
Learn more about mammography and advanced screening mammogram options, including 3D mammography, at Touchstone Medical Imaging.
Touchstone Medical Imaging offers Screening Mammography services in Texas, Colorado, and Oklahoma. Find a center near you.