The Benefits of Breast Cancer Screening
In the rush of work deadlines, responsibilities at home and all the other plates you’re spinning, taking care of your health may feel, at best, like a luxury and at worst, a hassle. In most cases, breast cancer screening is just one more thing to add to your schedule. You’re about to find out why this annual appointment should sit high on your priority list, and why YWCA St. Joseph puts it high on theirs.
Early detection is key. Sure, getting a mammogram every year takes a bit of time, but when you consider that breast cancer screening detects cancers that would be impossible to feel in a breast self-exam, it’s worth it. When you detect cancer in its early stages, you have far more options for treatment and a greater chance of survival: 93% of women whose cancer is detected early are surviving five years later.
Early detection often means that the cancer is still confined to the breast and is generally smaller. When combined with breast self-exam and a clinical exam, mammograms help increase the chances of finding a cancer early.
Breast cancer screening is recommended every year after age 40. Your doctor may recommend that you start earlier if you have a higher risk, such as a strong family history or have had radiation in the chest previously. Screening only takes about 20 minutes and causes minimal discomfort. Once you find a screening location where you feel comfortable, it’s a good idea to return each year to that facility so that your results can be easily compared.
A common reason that women avoid mammograms is a sort of head-in-the-sand fear of the screening finding something. It’s important to note that while it’s common for a mammogram to require additional testing (about 10% of mammograms require more information), only 8-10% of those will require a biopsy. Of those biopsies, 80% turn out not to be cancer. So even if your breast cancer screening comes back abnormal, it’s still unlikely to detect a cancer in further evaluation.
The ENCOREplus program: YWCA St. Joseph provides free education and breast cancer awareness to women across the region through the ENCOREplus program. The program is offered one-on-one, or to groups through community centers, churches and businesses. Participants can be referred to a breast cancer screening provider and ENCOREplus will provide transportation on the day of the mammogram if needed. Women who receive a mammogram and call the ENCOREplus office receive a free gift.
To learn more about breast cancer screening through ENCOREplus, contact us at YWCA St. Joseph.