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Get back on track with your yearly mammograms

Early detection allows for better outcomes, so it’s important to schedule your mammogram. Sponsored by Swedish.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and though COVID-19 may have impacted your yearly screenings, this month is the perfect time to schedule your mammogram. 

“What worries me most about people not getting their mammograms is that mammograms save lives,” said Dr. Angelena Crown, surgeon at the Breast Surgery Clinic at Swedish. “The way they do that is they help us detect breast cancer at the earliest possible stages. We know looking at years and years of data that if breast cancer is localized to the breast at the time of diagnosis, the 5-year relative survival rate is 99%, which is amazing.”

Risk assessments for breast cancer can also be vital in detecting breast cancer early. Prediction models based on family history and other high-risk features are applied to individual women to establish their lifetime risk.

Women who have a lifetime risk greater than 20% estimated by these models or other risk factors like a genetic mutation that predisposes them to breast cancer all qualify for a breast screening MRI, in addition to a mammogram every year.

The American Society of Breast Surgeons and American College of Radiology both recommend that women have a risk assessment before age 40 to establish their lifetime risk and a proper screening plan. 

If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, the next step is to meet with a breast surgeon to discuss the type of breast cancer you have and what treatment options are available, which can differ depending on your exact diagnosis. Options include a lumpectomy to remove cancerous breast tissue along with a rim of healthy tissue and a mastectomy. 

Advancements in breast cancer surgery have allowed for a better quality of life post-surgery for many patients. Advancements in imaging have also allowed for breast cancer to be detected earlier. 

“Because our imaging is getting so, so good, that the incidence of breast cancer appears to be rising,” Dr. Crown said. “But we don’t think that’s because there’s more breast cancer that’s developing. It’s just that we’re finding it earlier and we’re able to find it more successfully with better imaging.”

Patients under 45 make up 10 to 12% of all breast cancer diagnoses. Because many of the patients are hoping to build their families, doctors work with them to balance goals and life. 

“As long as they have localized disease, which is the vast majority of breast cancer diagnoses, we’re expecting them to live a very long life and a very healthy life,” Dr. Crown said. “We want to make sure that all of their life goals are addressed.”

To learn more and schedule your mammogram or risk assessment, visit the Swedish website

Sponsored by Swedish. Segment Producer Suzie Wiley. Watch New Day Northwest 11 AM weekdays on KING 5 and streaming live on KING5.com. Contact New Day

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