Mammograms, self-examinations save lives

Breast cancer is expected to kill nearly 40,000 women in the U.S. this year, while another 207,000 will be diagnosed with the disease. With early detection, however, breast cancer has one of highest survival rates – nearly 90 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer will survive the disease at least five years.

The key to early detection is getting annual mammograms combined with regular self-exams of the breasts, says Dr. Phil Evans, associate vice president for imaging services at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

“We recommend regular annual mammograms beginning at age 40,” Dr. Evans says. “For high-risk groups, including women who have a first-degree relative with breast cancer or women who had chest X-rays for Hodgkin disease when they were younger, we recommend they consult with their doctor to determine if they need to start earlier.”

Women whose mothers had breast cancer by the time they were 40 years old should start with regular mammograms at age 30, Dr. Evans says.

Women who have breast implants also should get mammograms every year. Although mammograms are more difficult for these women, they are still necessary.

Experienced mammographers will know how to deal with implants. They may need to take additional views, and the image may be more difficult to read, so women with implants should look for a center with a staff experienced in dealing with implants. There is a slight risk of the implant rupturing from the pressure of a mammogram, but Dr. Evans says the life-saving benefits are worth the risk. 

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/radiology to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in radiology. To learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services for cancer, visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/cancercenter

October is national Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Media Contact: Amanda Siegfried


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