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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: When should you start getting your annual mammogram?

Doctors say Breast Cancer Awareness Month serves as a good reminder for women to go and get their mammograms. It’s something many women have put off during the pandemic, along with other health screenings.

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is the perfect time to highlight the importance of breast health.

Dr. William Burak, the director of breast surgery at Memorial Health in Savannah, Georgia, spoke about the importance of mammograms and when you should start getting one annually.

"Mammograms are really important for identifying small breast cancers that aren’t able to be found on self-exams or exams by your physician. We will find breast cancers as small as a couple of millimeters and at that point, they can be treated with a lot less aggressive surgery and a lot less aggressive treatment like chemotherapy," Burak said.

He believes breast cancer awareness month serves as a good reminder for women to go and get their mammograms.

It’s something many women have put off during the pandemic, along with other health screenings.

"We are seeing somewhat of a rebound this year, but I’m seeing a lot of women who come in to see me that are diagnosed with breast cancer that missed their mammogram last year and certainly if they had it, there’s a chance it would have been found at that point, the prognosis would be better," Burak said.

But exactly when should you start getting your annual mammogram?

"We recommend average-risk women, women who have no strong history or other risk factors should start annual mammograms at age 40. High-risk women, women who have a history of other risk factors should start earlier than that and we like to individualize their screening program," Burak said.

He says the process is quick and simple and could be life-saving.

"Routine screening mammogram should take less than 15 minutes. That’s not just the procedure, that’s the intake and procedure. Results are usually the same day or within 24 hours.”