October brings many welcome changes, including cooler temperatures, colorful leaves and the return of fall sports. As a breast-specialized radiologist, I look forward to October events designed to promote breast cancer screening awareness. Public campaigns, corporate promotions and community awareness events all contribute to this effort. I’m always happy to see those annual mammography patients who have established themselves as “October regulars” as a result of these efforts.
Annual mammography has been shown to decrease breast cancer death by at least 40 percent. This represents a significant impact for women on the most common cancer and one of the biggest causes of cancer death. The American College of Radiology recommends average-risk women begin annual screening mammography at age 40. Women with increased risk factors may benefit from earlier screening efforts. The benefits of early detection often include more favorable treatment options, less aggressive surgery and better chemotherapy outcomes.
Definitive answers about breast cancer screening can be challenging. The American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging have created a resource called “Talking to Your Patient about Breast Cancer Screening” CME toolkit (acr.org/CME-Toolkit). This free online resource contains talking points, printable material and short videos about breast cancer screening for both the provider and the patient. During October and beyond, I hope that breast cancer screening education will continue to be an important part of our service to our patients.
Ellen B. Blackmon, MD is a breast-specialized radiologist in practice with Vulcan Imaging Associates
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