When to start getting Mammograms?
No one wants to think about either one of these topics- cancer and age. Getting a Mammogram is one of the healthiest things a woman can do. Knowledge is always power but there are a lot of conflicting guidelines as to when a woman should start getting mammograms.
Common guidelines are at 40 years of age or earlier if an immediate family member (mom, sister or aunt) had breast cancer. However, in 2009 the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended that women with an average risk of breast cancer start screening at age 50. This sent outrage through the medical community and the debate continues on today. Most recently being able to test for the Breast Cancer gene(BRCA), gives many women hope they did not have before. For women who have immediate family members that had either Breast or Ovarian Cancer, there is a test for these genes. BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 are the genes known as tumor suppressors and when they mutate can cause ovarian and breast cancer. Made popular in the news recently by Angelina Jolie, who tested positive for the gene and decided to have a double mastectomy to ensure here health down the road. Angelina’s mother died of Ovarian cancer. To some this may seem an extreme measure but to others who have watched loved ones fight, this may feel like empowerment knowing there is something they can do to protect themselves.
Of course this is a personal decision whether or not to get tested for the gene, if you are at risk, but you must get mammograms! Mammograms do not hurt and they take 10 minutes. If you are nearing 40, over 40 or have this terrible disease in your family, find your local clinic and do something that may save your life!
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