It’s the most common cancer among women, but the prognosis keeps improving.
“Updates in research and care have improved outcomes at all stages,” said Paige Harwell, MD, CHI Health Breast Surgeon. “But if we catch it early, stage 0-1, there’s a 99 percent chance that with treatment, you’ll be cancer free in five years.”
That’s why experts stress that women over 40, with average risk, should have a mammogram screening at least once a year.
“Don’t wait until you feel a lump,” Dr. Harwell said. “Our mammograms can detect masses so small you might not even be able to feel it yet.”
On the flip side, Dr. Harwell stresses that women who do feel a lump should call their provider immediately, and not wait until their annual screening.
“If it’s cancer, it will evolve whether you know your diagnosis or not,” Dr. Harwell said. “We know it’s scary to find out, but it’s even riskier to not know.”
When detected early on, a less invasive lumpectomy may be all that’s needed to remove the tumor. Once cancer has grown and spread, more invasive surgeries and chemotherapy may be required.
“No one is too busy for a mammogram,” Dr. Harwell said. “Because if the alternative is late stage cancer treatment, a mammogram is a small interruption to your life.”