Every October, for the past 33 years, people around the country show their support to those whose lives have been changed due to breast cancer. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women and the first for Hispanic women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most breast cancer are detected by a mammogram, but because of misinformation, many women choose not to get screened annually.
Important Breast Cancer Facts That Are Often Missed
Mammograms are painful. "The biggest misconception is that a mammogram hurts, but cancer hurts a lot worse," Renee Palin said, the director of Mobile Mammo, which has two coaches that travel to various locations to complete on-site mammograms.
Breast cancer is hereditary. "Breast cancer is caused by long-term exposure to your own hormones,” Renee said.
“If you had your period early, say at the age of 9 when a lady typically starts at 12, you've been exposed to your own hormones for a long time," she explained.
Dr. Laura Isley, who works at the Radiology Regional Center, said “75 percent to 80 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history and they are at average risk.”
Not having a family history of breast cancer contributes to the mysteriousness of the sickness. There are women without a family history of the genetic disease who exercise frequently, eat healthy foods and maintain an ideal weight, but will still be diagnosed with breast cancer. Therefore, it is imperative to follow the best medical guidelines on testing.
Too young to get a mammogram. Renee said there are conflicting studies suggesting the appropriate age to start getting a mammogram.
The American Cancer Society suggest that women should have a mammograms performed every two years between the ages of 45 to 54.
Other experts suggest that 40-years-old is a good age for a woman to start their annual screening for breast cancer. Any younger than that, Renne said, is not ideal.
“The reason why you don’t start mammograms on younger breasts is that the breast has denser tissue,” she explained. “The dense tissue shows up as white and so does breast cancer.”
Dr. Isley added that it’s also important to perform monthly self exams as 10 percent to 15 percent of breast cancers elude mammograms.
“You are looking for a change in the breast tissue," Dr. Isley said. "Anything that feels different, or seems different."