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 Canadianwomen. Mammography is considered the gold standard fordetecting breast cancer early, but knowing when to startand 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 aspersonal history of breast, ovarian or uterine cancer, a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, child) diagnosed with breastcancer, 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 InsurancePlan starts to cover one screening mammogram per yearfor women. Your medical history, however, may indicatescreening needs to start earlier and your doctor can helpdetermine that.
3. How often to screen
Often a mammography is recommended every year fromage 40 to 49, and every two years from age 50 to 75. Yourpersonal medical history or changes to your breast mightcause your doctor to recommend a different interval.
4. Reducing lifestyle risks
Some risk factors for breast cancer are genetic and someare related to your lifestyle. For example, your doctor mayrecommend changes to your alcohol consumption, activitylevel, 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 densetissue). Knowing your breast density is an important part ofyour breast wellness plan because dense breasts can makea mammogram harder to read and may increase the riskof breast cancer. Depending on your breast density, yourdoctor may recommend supplemental breast ultrasoundscreening 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 experienceuncomfortable, 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.