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In The News

Dr. Carrie C. Morrison, St. Luke's Hospital

Amid mixed messages, breast cancer screening remains essential

A new Mayo Clinic study, which included about eight million U.S. women ages 40 to 64, found a decrease in the number of women in their 40s getting screening mammograms. After analyzing records from 2006 through 2010, researchers found that there was around a six percent drop in the mammography rate for women in their 40s during the last year of the analysis.

There may be various causes for the decline, but there is little doubt that the mixed messages about the importance of yearly mammograms for women in their 40s have contributed to the decrease. This includes the different recommendations for this age group which were announced in 2009 by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The confusion created heightens the importance of providing clear breast cancer screening guidelines for women.

As we recognize National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is important to follow the guidelines for mammograms established by the American Cancer Society and supported by the American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging. Research shows that breast cancer is most treatable when detected early.

Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines
  • Age 40 and over:
    • Annual screening mammogram
    • Annual clinical breast exam
    • Monthly breast self-exam
  • Age 20 to 39:
    • Clinical breast exam every three years
    • Monthly breast self-exam
Screening mammography saves lives, and regular mammograms should remain an important part of women's preventive healthcare beginning at age 40. Along with exercise, good nutrition and an annual physical, following the breast cancer screening guidelines previously outlined is important for maintaining good health. Screening mammograms can detect extremely small breast cancers that are too small to discover through breast self-examination or even through clinical breast examination.

Dr. Carrie C. Morrison is the director of breast imaging and mammography at St. Luke's Hospital and a member of ProSight Radiology Group. For more information, call 314-205-6565 or visit the Mammography Services page.

This article was published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on October 4, 2012.

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St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
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