Breast most cancers and mammograms: 3 key questions ladies of all ages ought to ask earlier than their scans


October is Breast Most cancers Consciousness Month — a time when the illness affecting a whole bunch of hundreds of American ladies every year will get renewed consideration.

American ladies have a one in eight likelihood (12.9%) of creating breast most cancers throughout their lifetimes, whereas American males have a one in 800 likelihood (0.13%), in keeping with the Nationwide Institutes of Well being’s Nationwide Most cancers Institute.  

Every year about 264,000 ladies are identified with breast most cancers, and roughly 42,000 ladies die of the illness, the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) experiences. (About 2,400 males are identified with breast most cancers every year and a few 500 males die from it yearly, CDC information reveals.)


Since breast most cancers is extra generally present in ladies aged 40 and up, medical professionals and organizations advocate routine breast most cancers screenings for middle-aged and senior ladies. This contains mammograms — a breast most cancers screening technique that is led to age-based debate amongst consultants.

There are additionally vital breast most cancers threat components to notice, say consultants. 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is observed in October each year.

Breast Most cancers Consciousness Month is noticed in October every year.

“Having one first-degree relative with breast cancer doubles a woman’s risk,” Dr. Kathleen Kiernan Harnden, director of breast oncology on the Inova Schar Most cancers Institute in Annandale, Virginia, instructed Every day Submit Digital.

Different high-risk components embody a household historical past of breast most cancers, a identified genetic mutation or a earlier breast biopsy, in keeping with Harnden.


Given this, Harnden stated there are three questions all ladies ought to ask themselves earlier than they request a mammogram session or appointment: 

1. Do I’ve an elevated threat of breast most cancers? 

2. How can I cut back my threat for breast most cancers? 

3. Will my mammogram be three-dimensional (3D) or two-dimensional (2D)?

Harnden recommends 3D mammography over 2D as a result of a number of photographs are taken from completely different angles, which can make breast tissue evaluation clearer.

Here is a deeper dive into these matters.

What’s breast most cancers?

About one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, according to the National Cancer Institute.

About one in eight ladies will develop breast most cancers of their lifetime, in keeping with the Nationwide Most cancers Institute.

Breast most cancers is a illness that happens in breast tissue when cells within the breast “change and grow out of control,” in keeping with MedlinePlus, a web based well being data service produced by the U.S. Nationwide Library of Medication.

The cells that trigger breast most cancers often type a tumor — an irregular mass of tissue.

Most cancers cells and cancerous tumors (malignant) are harmful as a result of they’ll disrupt organ capabilities and kill wholesome cells if left to unfold, which might trigger critical hurt or loss of life if left untreated, in keeping with a report from MedicalNewsToday, a medical information web site owned by Healthline Media.

Breast most cancers is the second most typical most cancers in ladies after pores and skin most cancers, says the Nationwide Most cancers Institute.

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Feminine breast most cancers charges by age group: CDC

    – 15 to 19: 0.2 per 100,000 ladies

    – 20 to 24: 1.8 per 100,000 ladies

    – 25 to 29: 10.5 per 100,000 ladies

    – 30 to 34: 30.1 per 100,000 ladies

    – 35 to 39: 64.8 per 100,000 ladies

    – 40 to 44: 131.7 per 100,000 ladies

    – 45 to 49: 201 per 100,000 ladies

    – 50 to 54: 240.7 per 100,000 ladies

    – 55 to 59: 273.3 per 100,000 ladies

    – 60 to 64: 339.8 per 100,000 ladies

    – 65 to 69: 425.2 per 100,000 ladies

    – 70 to 74: 475.8 per 100,000 ladies

    – 75 to 79: 466.1 per 100,000 ladies

    – 80 to 84: 420.7 per 100,000 ladies

    – 85+: 318.2 per 100,000 ladies

Breast most cancers diagnoses are extraordinarily uncommon in teenagers. Teen ladies between ages 15 and 19 have an incidence charge of 0.2 per 100,000, the CDC signifies.

Women youthful than 15 don’t have a calculated breast most cancers incidence charge as a result of the CDC suppresses information when there are fewer than 16 instances, which the company notes on its “United States Cancer Statistics: Data Visualizations” webpage.


Breast most cancers incidence charges steadily enhance with age, however it stays low for ladies beneath age 40, CDC information reveals.

Whereas not all consultants agree on whether or not ladies beneath age 40 ought to obtain mammograms, younger ladies of their 20s and 30s have been identified with breast most cancers, in keeping with incidence information printed by the CDC, which dates again to 2019.

The incidence charge of breast most cancers for middle-aged ladies steadily will increase each 4 years.

Girls between the ages of 20 and 24 have a breast most cancers incidence charge of 1.8 per 100,000. 

The incidence charge jumps to 10.5 per 1000,000 ladies, 30.1 per 100,000 ladies and 64.8 per 100,000 ladies, for ladies ages 25 to 29, 30 to 34 and 35 to 39, respectively.


Breast most cancers incidence charges spike from ages 40 to 74, the CDC’s information reveals.

The incidence charge for middle-aged ladies steadily will increase each 4 years. For instance, ladies ages 40 to 44 have a breast most cancers incidence charge of 131.7 per 100,000 ladies whereas ladies ages 55 to 59 have a breast most cancers incidence charge of 273.3 per 100,000 ladies.

Breast most cancers diagnoses are much more frequent in senior ladies. The CDC’s information present ladies from age 60 to 64 have a breast most cancers incidence charge of 339.8 per 100,000 ladies whereas ladies from age 65 to 69 have a breast most cancers incidence charge of 425.2 per 100,000 ladies and girls from age 70 to 74 have a breast most cancers incidence charge of 475.8 per 100,000 ladies — the very best of any age group.

Declines in breast most cancers incidence charges begin to occur after age 75, in keeping with the CDC.

What’s a mammogram? 

Mammography is a common breast cancer screening method that uses radiation to detect physical abnormalities in breast tissue.

Mammography is a standard breast most cancers screening technique that makes use of radiation to detect bodily abnormalities in breast tissue.

Mammograms are an X-ray process that helps docs detect early indicators of breast most cancers, in keeping with the CDC.

The machines used to conduct mammograms have plastic plates that flatten breasts, so X-ray photographs might be taken and analyzed by radiologists for abnormalities.

Mammogram outcomes are usually reported in a number of weeks, in keeping with the CDC.


Girls with dense breasts have the next likelihood of getting breast most cancers, the well being company experiences, however some ladies have higher-density breasts in the event that they’re youthful in age, pregnant or breastfeeding, taking hormone substitute remedy or have a decrease physique weight.

“Dense tissue can hide cancers,” the CDC wrote in a “What Does It Mean to Have Dense Breasts?” report.

“Fibrous and glandular tissue looks white on a mammogram. So does a possible tumor,” the CDC continued. “Because it’s hard to tell the difference between a tumor and dense breast tissue on a mammogram, a small tumor may be missed.”

Mammograms use X-ray imaging to detect breast cancer.

Mammograms use X-ray imaging to detect breast most cancers.

Dr. Mona Jhaveri, most cancers researcher and founding father of Music Beats Most cancers, a inventive nonprofit group in Washington, D.C., instructed Every day Submit Digital that dense breast tissue happens in half of all ladies ages 40 and up.

“It’s well known that detecting cancer lesions in women with dense breast tissue can be difficult,” Jhaveri stated. “Mammography is the standard of care for breast cancer screening, [but] it certainly has its risks and limitations.”

Delaying a breast most cancers analysis has the next threat than radiation publicity.

Potential dangers related to mammography screening embody overdiagnosis, false positives, anxiousness and radiation harm, in keeping with a examine printed within the Nationwide Library of Medication.

The U.S. Preventive Providers Process Pressure — an unbiased, volunteer panel of nationwide consultants in illness prevention — says ladies who place the next worth on the potential good thing about mammography over potential hurt can select to start breast most cancers screening as soon as each two years between ages 40 and 49 years. 


The CDC says comparable breast screening pointers have been issued to ladies ages 40 to 49 with “average risk” by the American Most cancers Society, American School of Physicians, American School of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American School of Radiology, American School of Physicians and American Academy of Household Physicians.

Some mammogram machines produce 2D images, while some produce 3D images.

Some mammogram machines produce 2D photographs, whereas some produce 3D photographs.

Three out of the six aforementioned most cancers organizations advocate annual mammograms for involved ladies who’re between the ages of 40 and 49, in the event that they so select.

Girls who’re age 50 and older are usually suggested to get mammograms achieved yearly or bi-annually.

All most cancers organizations advise ladies to talk with a well being care supplier to weigh the potential advantages and dangers of getting a mammogram.

Age and household historical past of most cancers are two components which are considered throughout mammogram consultations, the CDC experiences.

What ought to you recognize about mammogram radiation?

Mammogram machines emit radiation to create X-ray imagery, but this doesn't make the method dangerous.

Mammogram machines emit radiation to create X-ray imagery, however this does not make the strategy harmful.

Dr. Jessica Shepherd, a Dallas-based OB-GYN who’s chief medical officer at Verywell Well being, a well being data web site, stated most breast most cancers instances are identified after age 50, which is why mammograms are often achieved for ladies who’re nearer to that age marker.

“The dose of radiation from a mammogram is pretty low and very rarely poses a risk, making them a safe diagnostic tool, and typically someone only needs a mammogram once a year. Therefore there is no risk of too much radiation exposure,” Shepherd instructed Every day Submit Digital.

She famous that there’s a “small link to an increased risk of breast cancer over time due to [mammogram] frequency and also size of the breasts,” however “overall this increase in risk is very small.” 

Delaying a breast most cancers analysis has the next threat than radiation publicity, Shepherd stated.

“When caught early, breast cancer is highly treatable, and mammograms can be highly beneficial in these cases,” Shepherd continued. “If [breast cancer is] allowed to advance, a patient may have to receive more complex treatment such as surgery or chemo, which is way more invasive than radiation exposure from a mammogram.”

Breast most cancers screening alternate options

Breast ultrasound examinations can be done to diagnose potential breast tumors.

Breast ultrasound examinations might be achieved to diagnose potential breast tumors.

Different breast most cancers screening strategies exist for ladies who aren’t eligible or don’t need to endure a mammogram.

The CDC lists breast ultrasounds, breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) medical breast examinations and self-checks as attainable screenings for breast most cancers.


Ultrasounds generate footage (AKA sonograms) utilizing sound waves whereas MRIs are computerized physique scans that generate footage utilizing magnets.

Self-examinations can be done to check for early signs of breast cancer.

Self-examinations might be achieved to examine for early indicators of breast most cancers.

Medical breast exams are carried out by a health care provider or nurse. Throughout exams, medical professionals examine for irregular lumps or different bodily detectable adjustments in breast tissue by hand.

Girls can examine their breasts for frequent breast most cancers signs, together with lumps, ache and adjustments in measurement.

“You should report any changes that you notice to your doctor or health care provider,” the CDC wrote in a “What Is Breast Cancer Screening?” information. 


“Having a clinical breast exam or doing a breast self-exam has not been found to lower the risk of dying from breast cancer,” the CDC additionally stated.


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