WACO, TX — October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
It's important to highlight this topic as breast cancer is one of the leading causes on cancer deaths in women.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, 276,480 new cases will develop in 2020 alone. One in eight women have breast cancer and it's so important to catch the diagnosis early.
An advocate for the mammogram is Michelle Wilson who has been working with breast cancer patients since 1998.
As a manager at the Baylot Scott & White Hillcrest Breast Center, she sees many women, young and old, battle the cancer beast.
Wilson got into this profession since her older sister did the same thing and her grandmother had breast cancer.
"And we just diagnosed my mom in December. So, it's like how to get breast cancer when both your daughters are mammographers for a living," Wilson said.
At the age of 45 is when your first mammogram usually happens, but it's totally normal to get one sooner if needed.
After 45 it's important to receive a mammogram once every year.
"We want you doing it every year so we can see those subtle changes in those years and catch something if it does come up as soon as possible," Wilson said.
Women over the age of 50 are more susceptible to being diagnosed with breast cancer, but the CDC says 11% of women who are diagnosed are younger that 45.
"Nobody really knows what's increasing the risk, especially young people. New environment probably has a lot to do with it," Dr. Stella Amaechi said a Hematologic Oncologist at the Baylor Scott & White McClinton Cancer Center.
With COVID-19, many women have either rescheduled or delayed mammogram appointments and Dr. Amaechi says that is not a good enough excuse to delay a mammogram.
"I advise patients not to let COVID-19 delay what is important," Dr. Amaechi says.
Mammograms also have a reputation of being painful, but with new technology mammograms are fast, simple and painless.
"It's not your mama or your grandmama's mammogram anymore. It's really not," Wilson said. "We have got better equipment now-a-days that have what they call flex panels so the compression is more evenly distributed across the breast."
If there is a delay in your mammogram appointment, you should always do self-examinations to check for anything that might feel abnormal.
Doctors and nurses chose this profession to help those in need, both Dr. Amaechi and Wilson love their patients and are happy to be along side them every step of the way.
There are 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, thanks to those like Wilson and Dr. Amaechi.
For more information on breast cancer, mammograms and even breast cancer in males. Visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation website.