Health Experts Highlight Mammograms, Cancer Detection

HYANNIS – October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and health experts are highlighting the importance of mammograms in catching cancer early.

According to, over 280,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021, and over 43,000 will die from the disease.

Dr. Stamatia Destounis, Chief of the American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Commission, advised women to undergo a screening mammogram at least once a year beginning at age forty.

“The test is very easy, it’s very thorough, it’s very accurate, and it can be lifesaving. We want to be able to diagnose breast cancer when it’s very small, so there will be very little treatment,” said Destounis.

Those with multiple medical issues and other comorbidities that may interfere with cancer treatment should consult with their doctor regarding whether to have a mammogram.

Destounis addressed fears some women may have regarding pain during the procedure, saying most women are able to get through a mammogram without any pain.

Utilizing a buddy system and going with a friend or relative to receive a mammogram can be beneficial.

Destounis also addressed questions surrounding overdiagnosis and the categorization of dense breasts among some women.

“Overdiagnosis is when we diagnose some cancer cells in the breast that are very low grade, and over the lifetime the thought is they would never amount to any serious problem for the patient,” she said.

Overdiagnosis makes up a small percentage of diagnosed cancers, and doctors will often recommend that patients have surgery rather than risk the spread of a small group of cancer cells.

According to Destounis, dense breast tissue looks white in a mammogram, and cancers may hide in the white tissue. The denser the tissue, the more difficult it can be to identify a mass that may turn out to have cancer cells in it.

Doctors may recommend additional screening such as an ultrasound for women with dense breast tissue.

Destounis also discussed minority groups who are at risk of developing breast cancers.

“African American women are much more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer before aged 50 and are also much more likely to die of breast cancer.  Some of the reason for that may be genetics, and some of it lack of access to screening,” said Destounis.

“We want them to understand that they are at risk, and their cancers may be more aggressive when identified,” she said.

Transgender people are also at risk, whether they are biological males receiving hormones and developing breast tissue, or biological females who have not yet removed their breast tissue, according to Destounis.

Transgender individuals may be hesitant to get screened by radiology practices out of fears that they will not be understanding or welcoming towards them, but Destounis warned they may not be aware of their risks of developing breast cancers.

To learn more about breast cancer awareness click here.

By, Matthew Tomlinson, NewsCenter

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