Parker County Today October 2016 - Page 33

our health: DOCS THAT CARE Pressing Matter of Mammography Myths Debunking the half-truths, misconceptions and flat-out lies about mammograms  T he first time that mammography was studied and recommended as a cancer early detection tool was in 1963 at a U.S. Public Health conference held just down the road at M.D. Anderson. Suffice it to say, we’ve come a long way, baby! 
Mammography has become an important tool in our cancer-fighting arsenal with experts pointing to its overall benefit of less women dying of breast cancer since 1989. “Simply put, mammography is the closest thing we have to a cure. With advances in 3D mammography (tomosynthesis), clarity is improved, recalls are reduced, and cancers are found at a smaller (and easier to treat) size. To provide scale, the average size of an anomaly found through regular, annual mammo- BY MELISSA MOORMAN OCTOBER 2016 PA R K E R C O U N T Y T O D AY grams is the size of a pea. In contrast, the average size of an anomaly found through women who discover a mass through self-exam is the size of a walnut. This difference has a huge impact on treatment options and quality of life.” - Dr. Kandace Farmer, Solis Mammography. The National Institute of Health says that for women between the ages of 40 and 74, mammogram screening has reduced the mortality rate by as much as 20 percent of breast cancer patients. Not a big deal, you might think. Well, it is when you consider that it is estimated that 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S. this year (according to breastcancer.org). When you do the math, 20 percent of that number comes to 49,332 lives — then, it’s a bigger deal. If you or someone you love happens to be one of those saved by a mammogram, it becomes colossal. So who should get a mammogram? According to the new guidelines from the American Cancer Society, women with an average risk of breast cancer can begin regular mammograms between the ages of 40 and 44. After 45 years old to 54 years a woman should get an annual mammogram. After 55, the recommendation is for a mammogram every two years, but a yearly scan can be done also. These recommendations do not apply to women with a family history of breast cancer or at higher than average risk of having the disease. “The recommendations that we support are physicianled. The National Comprehensive Care Network recommends starting mammography at age 40. These are the people who treat people with breast cancer,” said Connie Oliver, vice president, marketing & client 31