Breast cancer deaths have been declining since the late
1980s with advances in detecting and treating the disease.
Still, breast cancer will affect one in eight Canadian
women. Mammography is considered the gold standard for
detecting breast cancer early, but knowing when to start
and how often to get this screening test can be confusing.
These tips can help give you greater clarity.
1. Gauge your risk of breast cancer
You and your doctor can look at risk factors such as
personal history of breast, ovarian or uterine cancer, a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, child) diagnosed with breast
cancer, etc., to help gauge your risk.
2. When to start breast screening
Many women have their first mammogram at about age
40, which is when the Alberta Health Care Insurance
Plan starts to cover one screening mammogram per year
for women. Your medical history, however, may indicate
screening needs to start earlier and your doctor can help
3. How often to screen
Often a mammography is recommended every year from
age 40 to 49, and every two years from age 50 to 75. Your
personal medical history or changes to your breast might
cause your doctor to recommend a different interval.
4. Reducing lifestyle risks
Some risk factors for breast cancer are genetic and some
are related to your lifestyle. For example, your doctor may
recommend changes to your alcohol consumption, activity
level, diet and weight to reduce your risk.
5. Knowing breast density
Your breasts are made up of different types of tissue:
glandular and connective (dense) tissue, and fat (not dense
tissue). Knowing your breast density is an important part of
your breast wellness plan because dense breasts can make
a mammogram harder to read and may increase the risk
of breast cancer. Depending on your breast density, your
doctor may recommend supplemental breast ultrasound
screening along with regular screening mammograms.
Five tips for breast health
Mayfair Diagnostics’ Katie Kaminski, medical radiation technologist, demonstrates the GE
Senographe Pristina Dueta mammography system.
Many women are reluctant to go for regular screening mammograms because they find the experience
uncomfortable, but Mayfair Diagnostics has introduced technology that makes them more comfortable.
It is available in our new Mahogany location, as well as our Mayfair Place and Southcentre locations.