Debunking the Mammography Myth Around Family HistoryApril 26, 2017< Back To News
Mammography Myth-Busting | Written by: Connie Oliver | Featured on Plaid For Women Website
Myth #1: You don’t need to worry about annual screening if you don’t have breast cancer in your family.
While research shows a strong link between a woman’s family history of breast cancer and her individual likelihood of being diagnosed herself, the fact that a woman does not have breast cancer in her family does not mean that annual mammography is something she can or should ignore.
A woman’s risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer if a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, or child) has had the disease is approximately double the risk for a woman without that genetic history. Two first-degree relatives with the disease increases her risk even more. And contrary to popular misconception, the father’s family history is just as important as the mother’s.
However, these facts often lead many to conclude that if there is no known history in their maternal or paternal family of breast cancer, then their chances of being diagnosed are very slim. The fact, however, is that in 2015, of all women diagnosed with breast cancer, 85 percent were found in women with no history of it in their family.
These statistics are not meant to be scary, but rather to inform women that while family history is a consideration, it should not be the deciding factor in whether or not to get an annual mammogram.
The statistics above may seem contradictory or confusing to some, but think of it this way: People who eat a lot of candy and sweets are more likely to get a cavity. But just because you avoid candy or sweets does not prevent you from getting a cavity or having other dental health issues. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you get your teeth checked semi-annually as part of an overall preventative health program.
In the same way, for women 40 years and older, an annual mammogram is the best way to ensure that should any breast health issue arise, early detection offers the best and easiest treatment options possible. Because while saving a woman’s life is clearly the highest priority, preserving her quality of life (through easier and less invasive treatment options) runs a close second.