I Wear Pink: Annual Mammograms

By Scott Sarvay

May 21, 2012 Updated May 21, 2012 at 8:00 AM EDT

Fort Wayne, IN (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - No one knows your body like you do and the women who pay close attention to what is going on with their bodies are more likely to notice changes, positive or negative.

That's why 21 Alive is launching the "I Wear Pink" campaign in conjunction with Parkview Comprehensive Cancer Center.

On the 21st of every month we are going to remind women of all ages to take stock of their bodies, especially their breast health.

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women. Almost 300,000 women in the U.S. found out they had the deadly disease last year alone. The good news, 250,000 of those women are alive today.

Dr. John Crawford, Parkview Cancer Institute says, "The mortality rate has been coming down and it's attributed to mammography."

Every woman knows her own body best. Dr. Crawford says self-awareness is important. He also stresses annual check-ups with a physician and mammograms starting at age 40 as the most important things a woman can do.

"Mammography is a big deal, because if you're having your screening mammogram and I find a breast cancer that way we're going to have a very high cure rate, in the range of 80 to 90 percent, because it's going to be early, it's going to be small. It's unlikely to have spread," says Crawford.

Getting checked out regularly by a doctor is very important for women in the detection process, but the risk factors are different for everyone.

Crawford adds, "If you have any family history of breast cancer, any prior genetic testing that shows you're at a greater risk, any prior radiation years ago."

The breast cancer gene, B-R-C-A, is a warning sign for many women. Dr. Crawford says it suggests a much higher risk. But knowing that can help in early diagnosis.

"If you're going to get it genetically you're probably going to get it younger and if you're going to get it younger you're breasts are going to be more dense, more duct tissue as opposed as when you're older you have more fatty tissue in your breasts and it's easier to image on a mammogram," says Crawford.

In these cases women get an MRI to detect the cancer. As every woman is different, the most important thing is finding it right away.

Crawford says, "If you find it early, not only do you have a better cure rate, you have more options."

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