October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a good time to talk about mammograms. Has your mom been for one recently? Should she? As she ages, some tests become less important. It’s an important question to ask her doctor so that she’s not missing something that could save her life.
Why Ask the Doctor?
If you’re wondering why it’s important to ask her doctor, the answer is simple. There are three general schools of thought when it comes to mammograms. All come down to the risk. If there’s a family history or past incidence of breast cancer, more frequent screenings may be required.
The American Cancer Society recommends getting a mammogram each year starting around 45 to 54. A family history is important in deciding when it’s time to get the first mammogram. After the age of 55, mammograms can be done every two years.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommends yearly mammograms. They start at the age of 40 and continue until there is a serious health issue that makes them unnecessary.
The U.S. Preventative Task Force recommends yearly mammograms starting between the ages of 40 and 49. After the age of 50, they can drop to every other year. Once a woman is 75 or older, they’re no longer recommended.
It may come down to your mom’s preferences after the age of 70. It’s important to talk to your mom’s doctor about it as older women are more likely to be unnecessarily treated for a type of breast cancer that takes a very long time to grow or doesn’t grow at all.
What If She Wants the Mammogram?
If your mom and her doctor decide they want the mammogram, make sure she’s prepared for it. She wants to wear a shirt she can easily remove and put back on. She could skip a bra that day to make things easier for herself. She needs to avoid using deodorant, perfume/cologne, lotion, or powder on the day of the exam. It takes about 15 minutes for the test to be completed.
Caregivers Can Help with Appointments
If it’s decided that she still needs a mammogram, make sure she is scheduled to get one. If you have a full workload and can’t bring her to her appointment, there’s still a way to make sure she goes. Caregivers assist with more than meals and housekeeping.
Caregivers can help schedule appointments, keep track of when it’s time to leave the house, and drive your mom. Call a home care agency to learn more about this vital service caregivers offer.