Postponing a mammogram could have irreversible consequences

Posted at 1:18 PM, Oct 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-13 15:21:15-04

Mammograms can detect cancer in the breast before any lump can be felt, which is why the procedure could be lifesaving.

There are multiple strains of breast cancer, so chances of survival are not 100 percent guaranteed after getting a mammogram. Still, doctors want to stress its importance.

Cathy Culp is a breast cancer survivor. It was a mammogram that helped detect her breast cancer and allowed for early treatment.

"I say it's your life. It's worth it. It's a tiny little test. It can make a big difference," said Culp.

Dr. Debra Monticciolo, with Baylor Scott &White Health, says that women should start getting mammograms at the age of 40 and every year after that. She says the sooner the better.

"We want to get cancers when they're smallest, most treatable. That gives the best chance for survival," said Dr. Monticciolo.

That's exactly when Culp started getting her mammograms. Everything was okay until one day Dr. Monticciolo delivered some unexpected news.

"But I remember when Dr. Monticciolo came in and told me because I looked at her and I said, are you sure you have the right person?," Culp recalled.

Culp was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 54. She said the moment was life-changing. "You get a grip on your life and you just realize you have two choices. Either you're gonna go ahead and fight this or you're not," said Culp.

Culp has now been cancer free for 14 years and it is thanks to the early detection of her breast cancer through a mammogram.

Dr. Monticciolo advises not postponing mammograms.

"The message is get your mammogram done. Don't put it off. We really need to find things as early as possible. That's gonna help save a woman's life," said Dr. Monticciolo.

Dr. Monticciolo said that African American women and women with close relatives who have breast cancer history have a higher chance of getting breast cancer. Also, although breast cancer and mammograms are widely associated with women, Dr. Monticciolo says that about one percent of breast cancers are detected in men.  

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