October is breast cancer awareness month. According to the American Cancer Society, yearly mammograms are recommended for women beginning at age 40. Clinical breast examinations (CBE) are recommended every three years for women in their 20s and 30s, and every year for women once they reach age 40. The United States Preventive Services Task Force ( 2009) recommended mammograms every two years for women aged 50-74.
The debate over mammograms involves many issues. There is concern over radiation exposure from the exam itself. Additionally, there are concerns over the likelihood of false positive readings and overtreatment of benign breast findings that may never even have caused symptoms. Finally, mammograms are thought to not be truly effective screening tools for women with denser breast tissue (as seen in the younger female population).
The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) is a website collection of national public service organizations, professional medical associations, and government agencies working together to promote breast cancer awareness and provide improved access to appropriate services.
The United States Breast Cancer Statistics states that approximately 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. All women are advised to have an open dialogue with their healthcare provider, regarding their medical history, personal risk factors, and need for mammogram screenings. Early detection is indeed the key to survival.