Number of Mammograms Decreases
In this week's Your Health with Angie Bailey reminds us that a routine exam is still the best way to stop one cancer in its earliest stage.
Mammogram save lives but rates among women age 40 and older are actually declining, an unsettling trend that experts worry could result in more breast cancer deaths down the line.
It's a national trend, but luckily not a local one at this point.
Nancy Cole gets a mammogram every year.
But this past December, that routine test showed something new.
"The doctor told me I had to have a biopsy," said Cole. "I stayed that morning, he did the core biopsy, the next day I was told I needed to have some surgery and it was a very early cancer. I cried through the whole procedure, I was scared."
A recent CDC phone survey of 14,000 women shows between 2000 and 2005, the number of women age 40 and older who said they had mammogram in the past two years dropped from 76.4%- 74.6%.
Those small numbers add up to more than you might realize.
"By about 1.5%," said Dr. Paul Dale.
"You sit there and think, that's not a lot, one and a half percent. That's actually over a million women."
Researchers can only guess the drop may be due to a national shortage of mammogram screening centers and specialists, a lack of health insurance or complacency.
Although breast cancer can't be completely prevented, screening mammogram can be used to detect breast cancer early, before it's big enough to feel or cause symptoms.
Really early detection is important, because when the cancer is found and treated at an early stage, the risk of dying from the disease is significantly lower.
"It was a small tumor and probably wouldn't have been able to be felt. You tend to think it will never happen to you," Cole said. "I was one of those women who never thought it could happen to me and it has.
And locally, the numbers are better.
"We're holding steady at about 12,500 mammogram a year here," said Dr. Paul Dale.
Dr. Dale say those numbers aren't really worth cheering about since as our population ages, there are a lot more 40 year old women who should be getting mammograms.
Meaning the numbers should be going up, not staying the same.
Nancy Cole's prognosis is very good since the cancer was caught so early, she's currently undergoing chemotherapy.