The following content is created in partnership with Trinity Health Of New England. It does not reflect the work or opinions of NBC Connecticut editorial staff. Click here to learn more about Trinity Health Of New England.

So just why do we have Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

Well, for one thing, it reminds us to maintain our breast health. Every October, we can reflect on how breast cancer is the second most common cancer among American women, with 1 in 8 having it at some point. And Breast Cancer Month is also an opportunity to learn. Both self-exams and yearly mammograms are key to early detection. According to the American Cancer Society, early detection of breast cancer in the localized stage results in a 99 percent survival rate.

Ultimately, Breast Cancer Awareness Month aims to prompt action; to get you to schedule your annual mammogram.

Scheduling an appointment and undergoing testing can be tedious, but the benefits of this yearly check-up far outweigh any reasons to put it off.

Early Detection

Women over age 40—or even younger, depending on their family history—should get a mammogram every year, says the Center for Disease Control. But what exactly is a mammogram and why is it so important?

A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray that allows doctors to detect changes in breast tissue, which can help detect breast cancer up to three years before symptoms appear. Many healthcare providers, including Trinity Health’s Comprehensive Women’s Health Center at Saint Francis Hospital, offer same-day results, follow-up screening and, if needed, a consultation with a breast surgeon.

Regularly performing self-exams can be an important way to find changes in your breasts. By finding breast cancer early, you can raise your chances of having a successful treatment. In fact, 40 percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump. Self-administered breast exams should be done monthly and can familiarize you with how your breasts look and feel. When doing a self-administered breast exam, be on the lookout for abnormal lumps, unexplainable changes in the size or shape of your breast, swelling or redness, skin dimpling, or changes in the nipples. The combination of periodical screenings and performing self-exams increases the chances of early detection. If you feel something different when administering a self-exam, make sure to reach out to your doctor.

Getting Checked Safely

The ongoing pandemic shouldn’t get in the way of your yearly mamogram. When scheduling your next check-up, ask about the steps taken to ensure a safe visit. At Saint Francis Hospital, for example, there are COVID-Free Zones in which care is provided for people not known to have COVID-19 or COVID-19 symptoms. In all facilities, face masks are required and provided if needed. Additionally, all areas are cleaned frequently following CDC standards, especially high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, and table surfaces. Getting a mammography doesn’t have to be scary or risky. Healthcare providers have made sure to make this a smooth and safe experience.

Take Care of Yourself

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, 30 percent of all new women cancer diagnoses in 2020 will be breast cancer. Thankfully, death rates from breast cancer have declined since 1990, partly due to the increase in awareness, advanced screening, early detection, and continuously improving treatment. Today, there are over 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.

Don’t wait to book your next mammogram. Click here to schedule your next screening, review our COVID-19 safety protocols and learn more about what Trinity Health Of New England can provide for you.

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