I had a mammogram this morning.
Unless something comes up during an annual exam, most women begin getting annual mammograms at age 40. This was my fourth, though, because breast cancer runs in my family. My first was when I was 21 … then at 30, 38 and today, at 41.
It’s awfully intimate, a mammogram. The kneading, pressing, pulling, and general re-shaping of your breast by the nurses. But after childbirth and decades of pelvic exams, having my breasts manipulated is hardly an insult to any modesty that remains. It’s a blessing, really, the privilege of health screening procedures. And in the scheme of things, a little pressure on the ol’ mammary glands isn’t the worst medical checkup a gal can have.
According to the American Cancer Society:
“Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in the cells of the breast. A malignant tumor is a group of cancer cells that can grow into (invade) surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to distant areas of the body. The disease occurs almost entirely in women, but men can get it, too.”
Here are some other facts from the American Cancer Society:
- Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers.
- About 1 in 8 (12%) women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime.
- The American Cancer Society’s estimates for breast cancer in the United States for 2014 are:
- About 232,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women;
- About 62,570 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer); and
- About 40,000 women will die from breast cancer.
I’m fortunate that my doctor, Dr. Samira Tahtawi, agrees with the American Cancer Society and most doctors, that screening is important for women and their breast (and overall) health. In fact, women age 40 and above should have annual mammograms.
Have you had a mammogram yet? If you haven’t and you’re nervous, call me. I’ll ride with you.