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Study finds mammograms important before age 50

09/10/2013

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – This study said to wait until you’re 50. That study said to only get a mammogram every other year. With all of this information flying around, how do women know what to do when it comes to breast health?

“I’ve said it a thousand times,” said Laura Gordon, breast health patient navigator for Summit Health. “Early detection is the best protection.”

According to a study from Harvard Medical School that was recently published in the journal Cancer, many women diagnosed with breast cancer before age 50, who died from their cancer, had not had any prior screening mammograms.

The researchers suggest that more should be done to encourage women under the age of 50 to have screening mammograms, and Gordon agrees.

“The idea of breast cancer is difficult for any of us to think about,” she continued.  “It is also difficult to think about yearly pelvic exams that can find cervical cancer as well several other examinations that can detect a variety of cancers. This can cause us to avoid getting our mammograms and other exams. But, we have to have courage and get those tests. Early detection can save lives and I see lives saved everyday.”

Gordon said that Summit Health supports the American Cancer Society guidelines regarding breast health screenings:

Age 20 and older – self breast exam
Age 20 to 40 – clinical breast exam every 3 years, and self breast exams
Age 40 and older – mammogram every year, self breast exams and clinical exams
If high risk – mammogram every year and MRI, if necessary; self breast exams and clinical exams

According to Gordon, mammogram usage has been increasing since it began in the early 70s and it is having life-saving results.

“We are seeing more women getting mammograms, and we are detecting cancer at its earliest stages,” Gordon said. “The Harvard Medical School research will help illustrate the importance of getting those early mammograms before you are 50 years old.”

At Summit Health, from January 2008 to March 2013, about 130 women under the age of 50 had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Of those women, 24 were under the age of 40.

“Mammograms save lives,” Gordon stated. “Early detection is the best protection, and in Franklin County and Shippensburg, Summit Health offers convenient locations to get screened. Take advantage of it. Take control of your health.”

For more information on Summit Health’s mammography locations, visit SummitHealth.org/mammogram.

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Summit Health, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to building a healthier community through leading-edge medical technology, skilled physicians, caring staff, and convenient locations.  Summit Health’s comprehensive selection of services and providers includes family physicians, surgeons, specialists, diagnostic services, a women’s health center, a fitness center, two walk-in care centers, and two award-winning hospitals. For more information about Summit Health, call (717) 267-7136 or visit www.SummitHealth.org and www.facebook.com/SummitHealth.

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