This is post is sponsored by Solis Mammography, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Getting to know your normal for breast health is a topic I’m obviously very passionate about. That’s why I knew it was the perfect partnership when Solis Mammography reached out to me to partner together and bring more awareness to the conversation around women’s breast health. So stick with me here while I share what it even means to know your normal for breast health, understanding your risk factor and sharing the difference on why not all mammograms are created equal.
Why Partner With Solis Mammography?
I’m glad you asked that question. From the beginning of my breast cancer diagnosis I have always wanted to revitalize the conversation around women’s breast health and those diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 45. My mission is to get the age of mammograms lowered from 40-30.
Did you know that this year, thousands of women have put off their mammograms due to COVID-19. A delay in screening is also a delay in diagnosis and treatment. Because breast cancer doesn’t just end in October, Solis Mammography is reminding women that breast cancer also doesn’t quarantine.
Solis Mammography wants to continue to share the message of early detection, along with breast health resources and acknowledge that while breast cancer isn’t preventable, early detection is the best defense.
Our missions align. That is why I said yes to this partnership. I hope you find this as valuable as I do!
What Is Breast Health?
Breast health begins with a sense of what’s normal for your breasts (breast awareness). By performing regular breast self-exams, you’ll discover what your normal looks like, at different times during the month—even during your cycle.
So honestly ladies, breast health truly starts with us and doing those regular self-breast exams.
Unfortunately, 75% of women diagnosed with breast cancer in the US have no family history of breast cancer. That’s why it’s really important for everyone to undergo an annual screening, begin breast self-exams by age 25, and most importantly screen annually.Andrea Parada, MD, Medical Director for Solis Mammography. Dr. Parada is also Denver based.
If you’ve been following me for awhile, then you know that I did not do regular self-breast exams. Had I, I might have found my lump when it was pea sized versus a walnut sized lump—see more below. Please learn how to do your exams and if you don’t, then ask your OBGYN or follow these simple steps for a self-breast exam.
Solis Mammography has also developed five facts about breast health that I want to share with you:
- Women in their 40s have the most to gain from annual mammograms. Cell growth replicates faster in younger breast tissue. That’s why an annual mammogram beginning at age 40 is important. I will add, it should be at least 30 or 35.
- 3D Mammography + SmartCurve equals accuracy and comfort. 3D has been shown to increase early detection of breast cancer by 54%. SmartCurve has been shown to improve comfort in 93% of patients who reported discomfort with standard compression methods.
- A pea-sized lump is better than a walnut-sized lump. Early treatment is less invasive, less costly and has better outcomes. PEA: Average-size lump found by repeat mammograms. WALNUT: Average-size lump found by women untrained in self-exams.
- Know your risk by age 30. Developing an early breast cancer risk factor assessment and action plan with your primary care clinician can lead to a lifetime of breast health.
- All mammograms are not created equal. 30 minute appointments. 100% breast-dedicated radiologists. Screening mammograms results within 24-48 hours.
Talk To Me About Risk Factors
When I talk about my story with other women the one thing we always come back to are “risk factors.” Did you know that there are risk factors that you can and can not control?
The most important thing is to not live in fear of your risk factors, but to discuss them. I encourage all women, by the age of 30, to have a frank discussion with their primary care providers regarding their risk factors.Andrea Parada, MD, Medical Director for Solis Mammography
Risk Factors for breast cancer that you can control:
- Alcohol consumption
- Hormone Replacement Therapy
- Reproductive history
Risk factors for breast cancer that you can not control:
- Genetic mutations
- Family cancer history
- Radiation to the chest
- Menstrual history
- Dense breast issue. See more below.
Women, by the age of 30, should have a frank discussion with their primary care provider to talk about their risk factors and figure out what breast cancer screening will look like for them, starting at the recommended age of 40 or if they will need to start earlier.Andrea Parada, MD, Medical Director for Solis Mammography
What is Dense Breast Tissue Anyway?
I talk a lot about having dense breast tissue and here’s why. Because I have dense breasts. The following wording is straight from my Breast Imaging Exam (mammogram): Breast Density: The right breast is heterogeneously dense, which may obscure small masses. And at the very end of the letter there’s this wording.
If your density is Heterogeneously dense or extremely dense, the state of Colorado requires the following: Your mammogram show that your breast tissue is dense. Dense breast tissue is common and is not abnormal. However, dense breast tissue can make it harder to evaluate the results of your mammogram and may also be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. This information about the results of your mammogram is given to you to raise your awareness and to inform your conversations with your doctor. Together, you can decide which screening options are right for you.
Before breast cancer, I had one mammogram. It was while I was breast feeding and I felt a lump and they said it was nothing, but I remember reading that exact wording “dense breast tissue” and thinking huh, that’s interesting. But never really read that much more into it.
High breast density is a risk factor for breast cancer that is typically detected on a mammogram. The FDA is proposing that mammography facilities tell women if they have high density, but there are no definitive rules in place that tell doctors how to best manage these women to reduce risk. Some strategies you can use if you have high breast density are to have a conversation with your doctor about breast cancer risk and reducing alcohol use, according to Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School.
If your family history is enriched with specifically breast and ovarian cancer it important to talk to them about a personal risk assessment model. How your personal risk can be assessed to identify if you qualify for starting screening earlier. You may be a candidate for earlier screening— starting your mammograms before the age of 40 or for adjunct screening with add modalities that can help detect small cancers, such as MRI.Andrea Parada, MD, Medical Director for Solis Mammography
The National Breast Cancer Foundation also shares five easy questions when assessing your personal risk factor.
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