I turned 40 this last year, a milestone I am not excited to be admitting to in print. Forty comes with all sorts of health ramifications: worsening joints, changing vision, cardiovascular risk, approaching menopause, and an increased risk for breast cancer. I am not particularly excited about any of these things and most of them, there isn’t much I can do about. I can, however, eat more vegetables, drink less soda, and I can get a mammogram.
The benefits of a mammogram are more extrinsic than diet and exercise changes, but breast cancer is one of these diseases that if caught early, it’s much more treatable and there are more treatment options. Low-risk women can often wait until they are 50 to start screening, but women with higher risk should start at 40. My maternal grandmother had a mastectomy in her 50’s for breast cancer, so while I am not considered high-risk, I do have a higher risk. Someone with no family history should still get screened, as 85% of women diagnosed with breast cancer do NOT have a family member who had breast cancer.
Over 300,000 women are projected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Because of early detection, we have decreased the mortality rate to about 13%. I would love to decrease that rate even further. Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your risk and get scheduled for your mammogram. If you already know how often you should have screening, let this serve as a reminder to go get it done. This year, I’ll be joining you.
- Robin Sebastian, MD
- Family Practice, Valor Health Emmett Medical Center
Valor Health works in partnership with St Luke’s and St. Alphonsus to bring Mammography Mobile Units to the Gem community. For more information, please call Community Engagement at (208) 901-3212.