Saving Lives with Mammograms
What is a mammogram?
- A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast that comes in two types.
- A screening mammogram is an x-ray of the breast that is used to detect breast changes in women who have no signs or symptoms of breast cancer.
- A diagnostic is a more sensitive procedure used to evaluate changes that may have been discovered in the breast.
When should women have screening mammograms?
- Women 40 and older should have mammograms every one to two years.
- Women whose risk of breast cancer is higher than average should talk with their healthcare providers about getting mammograms before age 40.
What are some factors that put women at increased risk of breast cancer?
- Age: The risk of breast cancer increases gradually as a woman ages. The average age of cancer detection is 64.
- Family history: If your mother, sister or daughter has a history of breast cancer, especially before the age of 50, your chances of developing breast cancer double.
- Breast Changes: Certain breast changes on a biopsy that show abnormal cells, a condition called hyperplasia that can signal cancer.
- Genes: Five percent of breast cancer cases involve a mutated gene acquired at birth.
- Reproductive and menstrual history: The older a woman is when she has her first child, the greater her chance of developing breast cancer. Also, a womanís chances of developing breast cancer increase if a woman starts her menstrual cycle before the age of 12, or ends it after the age of 55.
Remember: These are risk factors, and don't necessarily mean you will develop breast cancer.
How does the Health Departmentís Breast and Cervical Cancer Program help detect breast cancer in Mississippi women?
- Any woman in Mississippi who is non-insured or under-insured may qualify for free breast and cervical cancer screening services through the Health Department.
- Pap exams are available for women ages 18 and older who meet certain criteria, and mammograms are available for women age 50 and older.