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Don’t take your breasts for granted

You know scheduling this year’s mammogram should be at the top of your to-do list, but maybe you haven’t done it yet. Here are some reminders why you shouldn’t put off this important screening another day:

  • A mammogram is still the best way to detect breast cancer early when it’s easiest to treat.
  • Mammography is highly accurate, detecting breast cancer up to two years before you or your doctor can feel it.
  • Women whose breast cancer is first spotted with a mammogram tend to outlive women who find their cancer by feeling a lump.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends a yearly mammogram for women ages 40 and over. You should also have a clinical breast exam (CBE) performed by your healthcare provider shortly before your mammogram. Because mammograms aren’t foolproof, CBE is an important part of the screening process.

If you’re at high risk for breast cancer, the ACS now recommends adding a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to your annual screening. Women at a moderately increased risk should talk with their providers about the pros and cons of adding an MRI to their screening regimen. A yearly MRI isn’t recommended for women at low risk.

Your healthcare provider can determine your breast cancer risk by assessing your family and personal history and screening for gene mutations. He or she can also help you set up a screening schedule that’s right for you.