Breast cancer can be treated successfully, especially when found early. Mammograms are X-ray pictures of the chest that specialists use to detect abnormal growths.
If a mammogram detects a growth, a specialist may also recommend a biopsy to determine if the growth is cancerous.
Our specialists at Casa De Salud, with two Los Angeles locations, enable women to detect cancer early by providing mammograms. Read on to find out what could increase your risk for breast cancer, what a mammogram entails, and how often you should get one.
Who is at higher risk of developing breast cancer?
You may be at a higher risk of developing breast cancer if you:
- Take birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy after menopause
- Are regularly exposed to endocrine disruptors (e.g., phthalates, pesticides, phytoestrogens)
- Are overweight or obese
- Have a family history of breast cancer
- Suffer from diabetes or hyperinsulinemia
- Are regularly exposed to radiation
Estrogen stimulates the growth of certain cancerous tumors, which is why most of the risk factors are linked to high estrogen levels. However, these risks are relative, as other factors can raise or lower the risk of breast cancer.
For example, fat cells store estrogen, and this could explain why obese women are at a higher risk for cancer.
Therefore, obese postmenopausal women may be at a higher risk of breast cancer when taking hormone replacement therapy. Obese women of reproductive age may have a higher chance of developing cancer since they often require birth control pills with higher dosages of estrogen to successfully suppress ovulation.
The use of certain products and foods may also be contributing to the increasing number of breast cancer cases.
For example, many endocrine disruptors are found in hygiene products such as showering gel, shampoo, and toothpaste. Certain foods that are higher in phytoestrogens (e.g., soy, linseed, wheat, sesame seeds, dried beans, and rice) may raise the risk of cancer in women who are particularly sensitive to endocrine disruptors.
If you’re at higher risk of developing breast cancer, a mammogram can be helpful in detecting a growth early, enabling specialists to fight a cancerous growth with greater success.
How often should you have a mammogram?
Most cancer organizations recommend that women over 45 have a mammogram yearly. After the age of 54, you should go in for a mammogram every two years.
When you get a mammogram, you’re asked to place your breast on a plastic plate while another plate is placed on your breast from above. These plates gently squeeze your breast while taking images of the inside of it. Depending on how sensitive your breasts are, you may feel some pressure or pain.
How to prepare for a mammogram
Avoid scheduling an appointment while you’re on your period. During these times, your breasts may swell and become more sensitive to pressure. Avoid using perfumes, deodorants, and lotions because these can interfere with the images taken by the machine.
A mammogram lasts only 15 minutes, but it can be life-saving. Schedule an appointment with us to make sure your breasts are healthy.