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October 25, 2021

The Importance of Regular Mammograms

Fall River, MA - During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, ask yourself: "When did I have my last mammogram?"

If you are a woman age 40 or older, or if your personal or family history puts you at higher-than-average risk, this is a great time to schedule your mammogram.

Understanding the incidence of breast cancer

The Journal of the American College of Radiology notes that breast cancer is the most common non-skin cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States. Authors note that, before widespread mammographic screening was introduced in the mid-1980s, the death rate from breast cancer in the U.S. had remained unchanged for more than 40 years. The good news is: Since 1990, the death rate has declined by at least 38%. Much of this change is attributed to early detection with mammography.

What are the recommendations for breast screening?

The American College of Radiology (ACR) and the Society of Breast Imaging recommend that women start getting annual mammograms at age 40. They, plus the American Cancer Society and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, agree that this approach saves the most lives.

ACR notes that all women, especially Black women and those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, should be evaluated for breast cancer risk no later than age 30. This helps to identify those at higher risk so that they can benefit from additional screening. For example, if women are deemed to be at higher risk, mammography screening should start earlier than age 40 and perhaps include additional screening, such as breast MRI. For those who meet certain genetic criteria, or those who have personal history of breast cancer and dense tissue, or a diagnosis before age 50, the addition of contrast-enhanced breast MRI (or ultrasound for those who cannot undergo MRI) is recommended.

Learn what’s right for you

If you’re unsure when to start or have a screening mammogram, talk to your health care provider. They will be able to advise you about the best time for you to undergo regular breast screening.

Make an appointment

When it’s time for your mammogram, the Robert F. Stoico/FIRSTFED Center for Breast Care at Saint Anne's Hospital offers high-resolution 3-D mammography and convenient scheduling, including early morning, evening, Saturday, and same-day appointments. To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 508-235-5353, or visit saintanneshospital.org/breast-care.

About the Robert F. Stoico/FIRSTFED Center for Breast Care at Saint Anne's Hospital

Established in 2001, the Robert F. Stoico/FIRSTFED Center for Breast Care at Saint Anne’s Hospital offers a range of services dedicated to breast health. Diagnostic capabilities include 3-D tomosynthesis breast imaging; breast MRI; computer-aided detection for mammography; ultrasound; sentinel node biopsy; stereotactic breast biopsy; needle localization; and bone densitometry. Breast health treatment options through Saint Anne’s Hospital Regional Cancer Center are among the services coordinated by the Stoico/FIRSTFED Center’s nurse navigator. The Stoico/FIRSTFED Center for Breast Center is licensed and inspected by the Department of Public Health and is accredited by the American College of Radiology as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence.