Breast Cancer Screenings
By Kent M. Johnson, MD, FACP, FAAP
Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Interim Chief Physician Executive, Summit Medical Group Arizona
October is breast cancer awareness month. Risk for breast cancer can vary considerably from person to person but obtaining a mammogram is a critical component of early identification of breast cancer.
Recent guidelines on breast cancer screening have changed a lot, and several national expert groups have made differing recommendations as to when a first mammogram should be obtained and how often they should be performed. However, we suggest obtaining a first mammogram between the age of 40 and 50 and earlier if you have family history of breast cancer.
Your internist or family physician serves as an important resource for cancer screening, monitoring your health, obtaining immunizations,and coordinating your care. They can track vital signs, results of laboratory and radiographic testing and conduct physical examinations. It is important to keep open dialogue with your primary care physician regarding all your health care needs. In many instances, patients who visit their primary care physician are more likely to undergo screenings, including mammograms and examinations.
We suggest that your visit with your physician at least on a yearly basis to discuss these and other important topics and recommend that every woman have a special discussion with her internist, family practice physician or OB/GYN regarding when to start screening and how often to obtain a mammogram.
It is not common, but men can get breast cancer too. Routine mammograms are not suggested for men, but any man who has noticed a lump, swelling, pain, or other new or changing breast symptoms should bring this to the attention of his physician.