October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Ascension St. Vincent is extending hours at mammogram facilities all month long to help more women to get screened. Clinics are extending their hours to 6 p.m. and even some weekends.
Radiologist Mary Jackson specializes in mammography and says early detection is key in fighting breast cancer.
Women should be screened every year starting at age 40 and even earlier if they have a family history of breast cancer.
“Any new changes, at any time, even if you had a mammogram the month before or day before, report it to your doctor,” Jackson said. “If you have a symptom, we’re going to do different tests than just a mammogram.”
“Patients will sometimes ask us, ‘Can I stop having mammograms?’” Jackson said. “Our philosophy here is as long as you’re healthy, there is no stop date. They can talk to their doctor about that.”
In the state of Indiana, doctors are required to let women know what type of breast tissue they have. There are four types and some are harder to see on a mammogram.
Jackson recommends women know what kind of breast tissue they have and conduct an at-home breast exam periodically so you know of any changes.
Doctors say the best thing you can do to reduce your risk of breast cancer in addition to annual mammograms is eating a healthy diet, exercise and maintaining a healthy weight.