Nearly 270,000 American women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, that’s according to CBS News.
Now—new, conflicting guidelines for yearly mammograms has women rethinking just how often they should be screened.
Action News Jax reporter Courtney Cole spoke to a local doctor to clear up the confusion and talk about an important step you shouldn’t skip.
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New recommendations from the American Cancer Society and the American College of Physicians has women wondering how often they really need to get their mammograms.
The American Cancer Society recommends women between the ages of 45-54 with an average risk of breast cancer— get screened every year.
While the ACP said a majority of women only need a mammogram every other year, beginning at age 50.
Dr. Shala Masood said the key to cutting down confusion is keeping open communication with your doctor—regardless of your age.
Masood is the Medical Director of the Breast Center at UF Health.
"Based on the clinical exam and the personal history of every individual patient, they both need to decide if mammography is something they need to do,” Dr. Masood said.
Dr. Masood told Action News Jax she believes guidelines are being revised because of the harm over-screening could cause as well.
“Overuse of screen procedures, of every organ, only leads to over-diagnosing of abnormalities that really don't have any potential to harm the patient," she said.
While Dr. Masood says it is important for women to get their mammogram— she told Cole the most important thing a woman can do is self-check her breasts, regularly.
Cortney Altstatt agrees.
“Self-examination can save lives, I would have to say. Sometimes if you wait, it's too late for sure. Self examination—do it,” Altstatt told Cole.
The 27-year-old Clay County sheriff’s deputy says she found the lump in her breast, herself, in October 2018.
"I went straight to the doctor and he said let's do all these kinds of tests,” said Altstatt.
Tests revealed she had Stage Three breast cancer.
The mother of four also learned it was growing in her lymph nodes underneath her right arm.
“I've been doing chemo since the end of October, beginning of November, all the way to three weeks ago— was my last chemo.”
Altstatt still has surgery and radiation, but says she's prepared to come out strong on the other side of the battle against breast cancer.
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