on the Front Line
If there is one message Terry Mason, RT, mammography supervisor of the Radiology Department at Halifax Regional, wants everyone in our communities to hear, it is that early detection of breast cancer via mammograms is still the best protection.
“We still recommend yearly mammograms for women over the age of 40,” Mason says. “But that is for an average woman with few or no risk factors. Many women have a family history of breast cancer—and many women are not average.”
BREAST CANCER RISK FACTORS
For women under 40 who are at high risk, screening may need to start earlier. Risk factors include:
- Family history of breast cancer: If a first-degree relative had breast cancer, your mammograms should start 5–10 years before the age your relative was diagnosed.
- Genetic mutation: If you have mutation of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene—or have a parent, sibling or child with this mutation—you’re considered at high risk.
- Previous radiation treatment: If you had radiation therapy to the chest when you were between 10 and 30 years old, you are at high risk.
“Having risk factors does not mean you will have breast cancer,” Mason says. “It means your risk is higher than the American average. Mammograms can catch breast cancer early, before it spreads to other areas of the body.”
For questions about breast care, call Halifax Regional
Mammography at 252-535-341