15 Minutes or Less Can Save Your Life

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Did you know that a “10 to 15” minute test can easily save your life? That is the amount of time an average screening mammogram takes according to the website, https://memorialhermann.org.

In 1985, the “American Cancer Society and Imperial Chemical Industries” (now known as AstraZeneca) created “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” to help promote and remind women to get their screening mammograms. The frequency of screening depends on the age and risk factors of the individual to help determine how often a woman should schedule their screening. Average screening mammograms usually occur once every year or two.

According to, October 16th: National Mammography Day – Breast Cancer Assistance Fund (breastcanceraf.org):

“The American Cancer Society recommends that all women follow the national guidelines when it comes to breast cancer defense, the goal is to make sure that:

  • All women aged 40 to 44 are given the choice to start annual breast cancer screening if they wish to do so.
  • Women aged 45 to 55 have access to breast cancer screening every year
  • Women over 55 should get screened every 2 years
  • All women should have access to accurate and up-to-date information about breast cancer and associated risks and prevention.”

A mammogram is a low dose X-ray image that helps detect breast cancer. The goal of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and mammograms is to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages, even before any symptoms or signs arise. This type of mammogram is known as a screening mammogram. A second type of mammogram, known as a diagnostic mammogram, takes a closer look at specific parts of the breast. These mammograms are used when suspicious areas are seen on a screening mammogram, when a patient or physician palpates a lump in a breast, after treatment for a detected cancer and when a breast implant interferes with a screening mammogram image.

Mammogram imaging can be taken in 2-D or 3-D images. A 2-D mammogram takes 2 separate images whereas a 3-D mammogram takes several pictures of each breast to create one 3-D picture. More cancer cases are found with 3-D mammograms than 2-D mammograms, but are often not covered by insurance companies.

Regardless of the type of mammogram performed, results usually take one to two weeks before a patient finds out the results, but with the use of digital imaging and EMR’s, results are conveyed even sooner. An abnormal mammogram does not necessarily mean cancer. A patient may require further testing, such as a diagnostic mammogram which will take additional images of surrounding areas to ensure there is no cancer. In other instances, a biopsy of the specific area may be required. Most abnormal mammograms, however rarely are cancer. Only about 1 in 10 abnormal mammograms actually result in a cancer diagnosis.

The third Friday of October is known as, “National Mammography Day.” Mammograms and self exams are important steps in reducing the number of deaths due to breast cancer. The earlier a woman gets diagnosed with cancer; the sooner treatment can be started, and the better the survival rate. Remember to schedule your mammogram, because your life depends on it.


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