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Get a mammogram during Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Oct 20, 2021, 07:00 AM

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which means it’s the perfect time to be thinking about breast cancer screening. Being screened by your provider before you feel sick is known as "preventive care” because it’s care that helps you prevent illness. Breast cancer screening — through an exam known as a mammogram — can help you find any problems sooner, so you can start treating them. Columbia Pacific CCO fully covers breast cancer screening. Don’t wait! Schedule your screening today.

Breast cancer in the United States and beyond

Each year, a little more than 250,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 40,000 people will die of breast cancer. More than four million people in the U.S. have some history of breast cancer. Worldwide, it is the most common type of cancer — 12% of all new cancer cases are breast cancer. Early detection allows treatment to begin as soon as possible.

How a mammogram works

A mammogram is a special type of X-ray that helps doctors find breast cancer, sometimes as early as three years before a lump can be felt. It can cause some brief pain or discomfort, but it is over quickly. The CDC offers these tips for your mammogram:

  • Try not to have the screening before or during your period, which can make your breasts swollen or tender.
  • Don’t wear deodorant or perfume, because they can show up as white spots on the X-ray.
  • You may want to wear a top you can remove with pants or a skirt. You’ll need to remove your top during the mammogram.

The screening takes just a few minutes for most women. Most often, results are ready within a few weeks. They will be given to you and your primary care provider (PCP).

Who should get a mammogram?

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that women ages 50 to 74 get a mammogram every two years. Your provider may also suggest getting a mammogram if any symptoms of breast cancer appear. People with a sibling, parent or child with breast cancer are at greater risk of having the disease — up to five times as much — than other people. If you’re in the recommended age range or have a family history of breast cancer, you should make sure you have a regular screening. Getting a mammogram every other year saves lives.

Is it safe to get my breast cancer screening during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes. Clinics are taking steps to make sure appointments in person are safe. The Mayo Clinic offers helpful guidance about breast cancer screening and COVID. They recommend getting your breast cancer screening whether or not you have gotten the COVID vaccine. If you got the vaccine, tell the person who screens you know which arm you got the shot in. This can help them make sense of the images they see. Sometimes your lymph nodes near the arm that got the vaccine can swell some after the shot.

Don’t wait — schedule your breast cancer screening today!

Breast cancer screening helps you stay healthy, and finding cancer early can save your life. During the COVID-19 pandemic, your health is more important than ever. Call your PCP to ask about breast cancer screening today.

More helpful resources

CDC: Basic information about breast cancer

CDC: What is a mammogram?

Mayo Clinic Q and A: Mammograms and COVID-19 vaccine

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force: Breast cancer: Screening Family history U.S. breast cancer statistics