Health Care

Why You Shouldn’t Skip Your Annual Mammogram

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When life gets busy, self-care is often what’s sacrificed, pushing things like annual wellness exams and screenings to the bottom of our lists. But knowing that breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women in the U.S. should strengthen your resolve to stay on top of your annual mammogram. After all, it could save your life.

Just a few days before Breast Cancer Awareness Month, journalist and author Katie Couric revealed she was diagnosed with breast cancer during a routine screening. “Please get your annual mammogram. I was six months late this time,” Couric wrote in a post on her website. “I shudder to think what might have happened if I had put it off longer.

Who Needs a Mammogram?

The American Society of Breast Surgeons recommends that all women over age 40 have an annual mammography breast screening (3D preferred). Women with a higher-than-average risk of breast cancer may need to start routine screenings earlier. Your doctor can discuss what’s best for you based on your unique health and family history. At AdventHealth, we perform 3D mammograms that can provide greater peace of mind with clearer and more accurate results — with up to 40% increased detection rates of invasive breast cancer.

Before you have symptoms, a screening mammogram offers the best chance of early detection. Catching it early means:

  • Therapies like breast conservation therapy will be most effective
  • Treatment can begin early, possibly before the cancer spreads to other parts of your body
  • You’ll have the best possible chance for a cure

Screening and Diagnostic Mammograms

Mammography uses X-rays to make a picture of your breast. Screening mammograms and diagnostic mammograms use the same equipment and procedures. The difference is in the number of images made.

Screening mammograms are for women who have no signs of breast cancer, such as a lump, pain or nipple discharge. It takes fewer images in less time, and you’ll receive less radiation.

Diagnostic mammograms take more images from different angles to help doctors make the most accurate diagnosis. Rest assured that all modern digital mammography equipment uses low doses of radiation, and the latest 3D mammography systems need even less.

Know Your Risk of Breast Cancer

It’s important to know your risk for breast cancer. Some risk factors you can control, such as obesity and alcohol use. Others you can’t, including:

  • Age
  • Density of breast tissue
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • First menstrual period before age 12
  • Genetic mutations BRCA1 and BRCA2
  • History of fibroids or other benign breast conditions
  • Race and ethnicity

Schedule a Screening Mammogram

If you’re between ages 20 and 40, you should have a clinical breast exam by your doctor at least every three years. At age 40, we recommend beginning annual screening mammograms. Talk to your gynecologist or primary care provider to develop a customized screening plan for you.

AdventHealth specializes in state-of-the-art women’s screening and diagnostic imaging services that adhere to the highest national safety standards. Our goal is to provide every woman with the best lifesaving tools available to detect, diagnose and treat breast cancer. That’s why U.S. News & World Report has named AdventHealth one of the best hospitals in Orlando for cancer and women’s care.

We strive to make it easy and convenient to get your mammogram with flexible appointment options and multiple locations across Central Florida. Schedule yours today at

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