Many women wait until they have a medical concern before talking to their doctor about breast cancer screening. By then, their health may already be at risk.
Getting a mammogram before there is a problem is the best way to protect yourself, says Randy Webster, COO of MedRay Imaging in Coquitlam.
“Breast tissue is unlike any other tissue that we have in the body. It’s very unique to you,” Webster explains. “In order for a doctor to diagnose cancer, many times what they need to do is see changes in the tissue over time.”
Because of this, the B.C. Cancer Agency recommends that women who are between the ages of 40 and 79 have mammograms every two years. Those with first-degree relatives – mothers, father, sisters, brothers, daughters or sons – with breast cancer should be screened annually. Women with a family history of breast cancer are nearly two times more likely to develop it themselves.
“We find it really important that women come in and get their first one done, because that’s the most important one in order to get them on the path,” Webster says.
A mammogram only takes five or 10 minutes. And after your first, the B.C. Cancer Agency sends reminders before your next one is due.
Medray offers full field digital mammography through its Screening Mammography Program of British Columbia. The facility also does diagnostic mammography and breast ultrasounds for patient who are symptomatic, such as those who have a found a lump, are experiencing discharge or have noticed some irregularity.
These diagnostic services determine whether a further work-up, such as a biopsy, is necessary.
Approximately one out of nine women will develop breast cancer, and one in 28 is expected to die as a result, according to the B.C. Cancer Agency. Breast screenings can catch cancer early, before it spreads.
Breast cancer in men is rare, but it does occur, and anyone – male or female – who notices a potential symptom should discuss it with their doctor immediately.