By Dr. Catherine Kasper – We’re more than a month into the year and I’m still working to hold onto many of the resolutions and goals I set for 2023. For me, there’s one resolution that never changes year after year; to inspire more women to get a mammogram to screen for breast cancer.
This year, my mission is to reach even more young women, especially those with a family history of breast cancer. And here’s why I’ve made this my mission – I’ve seen firsthand how early detection can save lives.
I urge more younger women to book their annual mammogram appointment. Current guidelines recommend women of average risk to begin annual mammograms at age 40, but women who have any family history of cancer should start screening as young as 25.
While breast cancer in younger women is rare, it is the most common cancer among women ages 15 to 39. In July 2022, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), came out with the latest breast cancer screening and diagnosis guidelines recommending that women should first undergo a breast cancer risk assessment at age 25, with annual mammograms starting at age 40 for women considered at average risk of developing breast cancer.
Part of a risk assessment includes looking at factors such as age or having dense breast tissue that put women at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Additionally, women with a close relative who has had breast cancer or who have an inherited a gene mutation are at greater risk. If these risk factors apply to you or someone you care about, talk to your doctor about possible preventative measures you can take.
A recently released CDC study gave us a glimmer of hope in our fight to decrease breast cancer deaths. Fatalities have declined by about 1 percent annually over the past decade, likely due to more awareness, more people getting mammograms and more success with treatments. However, the same study showed that while diagnosis rates are 4 percent lower for black women than for white women, black women are 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer.
When breast cancer is detected in early stages – even something very small – it can make a BIG difference. Early detection is the key.
Many young women with a family history or risk factors are understandably very anxious about getting tested, but that shouldn’t hold them back. Encourage your daughters, nieces, coworkers, aunts and friends to resolve to get screened this year.
I’ve personally looked at thousands of images during my career, and I know firsthand what a difference early detection makes. It’s my personal and professional mission to urge all women to talk to their healthcare providers about screening options available to them. Please don’t let another day go by without scheduling a mammogram, you and your loved ones won’t regret it.
Precision Imaging Centers powered by HALO Diagnostics is a precision-focused multi-specialty radiology practice with four offices conveniently located in Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, Fleming Island and St. Augustine. By using state-of-the-art advanced imaging modalities, biomarkers, genomics and other tools, we capture the highest-quality images that lead to earlier breast cancer detection and less invasive therapies.