Maine CDC Press Release

October 2, 2008

Mammograms Still Best Screening for Breast Health

AUGUSTA - Women often ask what they can do to lower their chance of getting diagnosed with breast cancer. Though some risk factors such as smoking can be avoided, others, such as genetics, cannot. Women can increase protective factors by eating healthy foods and changing their lifestyle to include exercise and other stress reducing activities. However, it is important to remember that the biggest risk women face is aging. Even with the risk lowering strategies mentioned above, a woman may still get breast cancer.

That is why early detection is the key to saving lives. Current American Cancer Society recommendations are for women 40 and older to have a mammogram every year. Though many agencies are funding numerous research projects to improve breast cancer screening methods, at this time, mammograms are still considered the best method to find breast cancer.

Dr. Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPh, Director, Maine Center for Disease Control and prevention (Maine CDC), recommends that women schedule time to take care of themselves. “Women are so busy and often put their family’s needs before their own”, she said, “but it is important that they talk to their doctor about their breast cancer risk and have regular mammograms starting at age 40.”

For women unable to afford the cost of a doctor’s visit or mammogram, the Maine Breast and Cervical Health Program (part of the Maine CDC) may be able to help. The program provides access to screening services for women age 40 and older, with little or no health insurance that meet income guidelines. Women age 35-39 experiencing symptoms related to a possible breast or cervical cancer may also qualify.

For more information call 1-800-350-5180.