What do we need mammograms for and when does a woman have to start making them? Learn this and more in the article.
With growing concern that mammograms are more harmful than we are actually told, people have raised a question of how often should the mammograms be done. It was commonly believed in the years before that mammograms should be done since the age of forty and repeated every two years for more precise results. However, now as studies took place the prominent specialists in this area recommend only making this screening since the age of fifty and through seventy-four.
The reason for such period choice is that the doctors state it is hard to predict what might happen if women over seventy-four are taking the screening: it might result in different side-effects for them.
Therefore, the official data shows that the best age to start having the mammogram is around fifty, unlike the data that was published before about having them at the age of forty. Moreover, women that have a chance to have breast cancer are recommended to have mammography screening from the age of forty-five and have it on annual basis till they turn fifty-four. After that, this category of women is recommended to have the screening once in two years.
For the rest of women, the system is simpler: start having mammography at fifty, and have it once every two years will they turn seventy-four.
However, the age when a girl/woman should have a mammography depends on when a doctor tells you to have it. If there is a lump detected in your breasts by a physician, then chances are you will have to undergo screening much earlier. You should not underestimate the harm of this screening, so if you do not feel safe and want to check up before you turn 45, especially if your mother or sister had breast cancer, then you can undergo this procedure.
However, after it, if everything is okay, do not have the screening within the next few years to let your body recover and not to overdose it. Even if your relatives never had breast cancer, but you want to be on the safe side you can undergo the screening; however, after it, try to wait until the age required unless your doctor insists that you should go for it.
Another thing is that women who had breast cancer in their family (whose blood female relatives had breast cancer after they turned fifty) should be recommended to have mammography screening between the age of forty and fifty. Sometimes they are even recommended to have it before they turn forty, but this is very unusual.
It is not true that mammograms cause cancer; however, the risks always remain, so do not use it too frequently. Try to stick to the age we have mentioned above and only use this screening when recommended by a doctor before fifty and on a regular basis every other year after that.
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The results of mammograms can be different depending on the age of the woman that undergoes it. Some claim that the results are not visible enough, so they recommend younger women to undergo MRIs. Even though they are twenty times as more expensive, they are known to be more precise. However, they also cause harm and are not really safe for women. So do not undertake this procedure too often either.
Mammograms are not painful but, given their effect on your health, think twice before undergoing them few times a year. The doctors from the Annals of Internal Medicine have conducted a study to see how often mammograms should be undergone. The women they asked to participate in their study were of different age and background. And here is what they wanted the women to know and take into consideration before deciding whether they want to use the services of mammography.
“Biennial mammography (screening once every two years) had health benefits and was cost effective for all women 40-79 with high breast density or with both a family history of breast cancer and a breast biopsy, regardless of breast density. Biennial mammography was also beneficial for women aged 50-69 with average breast density and women 60-79 with low breast density and either a family history of breast cancer or a previous breast biopsy. Annual mammography was not cost-effective for any group.
The study’s authors concluded that each woman’s decision about mammography screening should be based on the following risk factors: age, breast density, history of breast biopsy, family history of breast cancer, and personal beliefs about the benefits and harms of screening. This study supports the Task Force guidelines that women at an average risk of breast cancer can start biennial screening once they turn fifty and that woman at a higher breast cancer risk should consider screening before they turn fifty.
The chances of getting breast cancer increase with age and the disease is much more likely after they turn fifty than before. So, from a public health and cost-effectiveness perspective, annual screening mammograms do the most good after they turn fifty. Earlier mammograms are less accurate and more likely to result in unnecessary anxiety or unnecessary biopsies. Unlike Schousboe and his colleagues, the Task Force did not recommend routine screening for women 75 and older, because there was not enough evidence to conclude whether or not the benefits outweigh the risks. However, the American Cancer Society recommends that screening every other year continue for older women whose health is good enough that they are likely to live at least ten years.”
As you see, mammograms are not the place where the more, the better. However, do not underestimate the importance this procedure as well. Even though you are getting a significant dose of radiation during the procedure, you still benefit and can eve save your life by just being responsible. The number of examples of people whose life was saved after breast cancer was detected at the very beginning is constantly growing. That is why, once you reach the age when you should start thinking of getting an examination, check your health condition every other year.
It is great to learn that the awareness of the importance of having regular mammography screening is growing. Within the last twenty-five years more and more women are having mammography on a regular basis and treat cancer right away in case it is detected. This saves lives, and we are not exaggerating the facts. This kind of cancer is treatable once found in the early stages. So do not hesitate to check your doctor if you are in your early fifties, or if your female relatives had it, then in your mid-forties. The risks of mammograms do not outweigh the benefits you get from it if done in the right way. So, consult your doctor and go for it if you fit the requirements. Stay healthy and safe!
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