October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and most likely you’ll see a sea of pink throughout the month, from pizza boxes to athletes’ jerseys, to raise awareness and join in support of the fight against breast cancer. While this support is extremely important to help find a cure, it’s also important that women understand the benefits of screening mammography and when to begin it.
For women over 40 at average risk of breast cancer, getting a mammogram at least once a year is the best way to detect breast cancer in its early stages. It’s important that you share with your physician any family history of breast cancer, as those with a first-degree relative who’s had breast cancer may need to begin screening mammography earlier than age 40.
As an OB-GYN, I encourage all of my female patients to come in once a year for a well-woman visit, during which we can discuss all of the factors that go into maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including breast health. These visits can include screenings, immunizations, evaluations and more.
Well-woman visits are a great way to meet with your physician, discuss any concerns you may have and get feedback regarding any follow-up care that you may need in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Early detection of breast cancer is crucial, and waiting until you have symptoms to go to your doctor can increase the chance of cancer spreading and becoming harder to cure. Talk to your physician about any questions you may have.
During the month of October, MidMichigan Health is offering free mammograms to qualified woman over 40 who do not have insurance. To learn more, visit www.midmichigan.org/freemamm.
Obstetrician/Gynecologist Shawna Ruple, M.D., sees patients at MidMichigan Obstetrics & Gynecology in Midland. Dr. Ruple specializes in routine and problem gynecology care, gynecologic surgery, prevention of female reproductive cancers, birth control options, caring for women while pregnant and more. To make an appointment, contact her office at (989) 631-6730.