National Mammography Day is like a cousin to Breast Cancer Awareness Month. They’re both committed to women’s self care but October 19 is set aside as a special day to encourage women to be proactive and make a mammography appointment. Mammograms are key to early breast cancer detection. Early detection means early treatment and the difference between life and death.
National Mammography Day - History
Digital mammography approved
The FDA, the regulating agency for mammography, approved the first full-field digital mammography system.
Congress approved mammography funding
Congress passed legislation providing funding for annual mammography screening as a Medicare benefit.
Xeromammography introduced for commercial use
Xeromammography was commercially introduced as a method of providing better image quality of the chest wall.
Houston radiologist improved mammography imagery
Robert Egan, a Houston-based radiologist, introduced specialized film for mammograms resulting in better imagery and details.
German doctor detected breast cancer with x-ray machine
Albert Solomon, a surgeon in Berlin, used an x-ray machine to see breast cancer in 3,000 mastectomy samples.
How to Observe National Mammography Day
1. Make your mammogram appointment, duh!
If you've been procrastinating out of fear (or simply denial that you actually ARE 40), make that appointment on October 19 because that mammography just could save your life. Keep in mind that out of every 1,000 women who get screened, about 100 are asked to do another mammography or allow ultra sound imagery. Twenty women will be referred for a biopsy and only five are diagnosed with breast cancer. Even with an abnormal mammogram, there may not be cancer detected so take the plunge and make your appointment on National Mammography Day.
2. Do a breast self-exam
Now's the time to renew your commitment to do monthly breast self-exams. Call your doctor or nurse practitioner for an appointment to show you the correct way to do one. You can also do an online search for pictures or infographics that can walk you through the process. After all, it's your body — show it some love.
3. Wear some pink
Pink is the official color of breast cancer awareness including observing National Mammography Day. Proudly wear your pink ribbon or wrap a tree with a pink ribbon in honor of a friend or loved one. It may seem like a little thing, but for breast cancer survivors, it means they're not alone in their struggle.
5 Things You May Not Know About Breast Cancer
1. Know your risk factors
Did you know that you may have a higher breast cancer risk if you have dense breasts, are post-menopausal, started your period before age 12, started your menopause after 55, never had a baby or had your first child after 30 and you didn't breastfeed?
2. Mammograms have some limitations
If you have dense breast tissue, a mammogram may have trouble detecting breast cancer.
3. Know what mammograms really do
Mammograms are important annually because they detect — but do not prevent breast cancer.
4. 3D mammograms see through dense breasts
3D mammography or tomosynthesis are the most modern screening tool for breast cancer detention because you can see better images of dense breast tissue than with traditional machines.
5. You can get screened with breast implants
If you have breast implants, it's imperative that you get regular mammograms to ensure the health of your breasts.
Why National Mammography Day is Important
A. Mammograms are only once a year
With annual mammograms, women over age 40 promote their own self-care. Mammograms are non-invasive x-ray images of each breast that doctors review for anomalies that may indicate cancer. Unfortunately, many women are afraid to make their mammogram appointments for fear of radiation and breast discomfort during the exam. But, fear not because the procedure, with minimal discomfort and a very small amount of radiation dispensed, takes only about 20 minutes.
B. Mammograms are extremely effective
Early detection screening has successfully reduced the U.S. breast cancer mortality rate by almost 40 percent according to the National Cancer Institute. That once-a-year mammogram is so effective that it can reveal breast changes up to two years before either a patient or their doctor can feel them. At age 40, you should get your mammogram even if you have no unusual symptoms and there is no history of breast cancer in your family.
C. Mammograms don't require a prescription
In most states, you don't need a doctor's prescription to make your mammogram appointment. As long as you are over age 40, you can refer yourself to a facility. Make sure that facility is certified by regulating agencies including the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Bring copies of previous mammograms with you, especially if you are using this facility for the first time.