Age 40 Smart Start for Annual Mammograms

Posted by: BeneFIT Corporate Wellness
Date: August 8, 2012

Breast cancer ranks among the most frequent and fatal diseases among American women, regardless of race or ethnicity. As with most diseases, early detection increases chances of survival. That’s why it is vital for women to start annual mammograms at age 40, according to Lori Alfonse, DO, a Lehigh Valley Health Network surgical oncologist with special fellowship training in breast cancer. “In the past, we wouldn’t learn that a woman had breast cancer until she came in with a lump,” Dr. Alfonse explains. “Today, through mammography, radiologists most often detect breast cancer much earlier, often before a lump can be felt by the patient and before the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.”

A few years back, some women chose to delay annual mammograms due to U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations which recommended that annual mammography start at age 50. That has since been refuted by most major breast cancer organizations, according to Dr. Alfonse. “The accepted guideline remains that women should begin yearly mammograms at age 40 or even earlier if you’re at high risk.

“Even if you don’t have risk factors, don’t have a lump and no family history, you should still get screened annually. About three-quarters of the women in whom we find breast cancer have no risk factors,” she says, emphasizing the clinical reality of early detection. “When breast cancer is found early through mammography, your risk of dying from the disease is reduced by at least 25 to 30 percent.”

Mammography’s minimal discomfort due to breast tissue compression or low-dose radiation are not sensible excuses for avoiding this potentially life-saving annual exam either, insists Dr. Alfonse. “It’s a fast procedure, so discomfort is minimal for most women. If you know your breasts are sensitive, tell the technician so she can compress the tissue more gradually. As for radiation, only a very tiny amount is produced during a mammography. It’s about the same amount you would get from your natural surroundings in an average three-month period.”

EMPLOYERS: Inform Your Employees About the Importance of Mammograph

Breast cancer is a leading attacker of women in the U.S. workforce. According to the CDC, after some forms of skin cancer, it is the most common cause of death from cancer among Hispanic women; among black, Asian and white women it is the second most common cause of cancer deaths.

Early diagnosis may help your employees avoid the pain and costs of advanced breast cancer. Valley Preferred’s BeneFIT team can help you spread the word about the critical importance of mammography.

For more information about mammograms, please contact us.

Disclaimer: The information presented is for your general knowledge and does not replace the advice of a physician. All medical inquiries regarding your health should be presented to a physician.

Unifying & Retaining Employees