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10-year breast cancer survivor talks about early detection importance

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 8:49 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Tammy White is a 10-year breast cancer survivor.

And she is one of many that encourages others to get their regular screenings.

Including those, like her, who don’t have any family history of breast cancer.

“It was very surprising, you know a shock, when you find out you have breast cancer,” says White. “But without getting those regular screenings and check-ups, you don’t even know.”

White says that because of the early detection, she was able to get it treated much easier.

“I was very fortunate. My breast cancer was calcification,” says White. “So, with that, I unlike a lot of people did not have to go through radiation and chemo. I was just able to have a mastectomy. And be able to take care of it like that. So, I was very fortunate that it could be removed completely and taken care of.”

Getting regular screenings and check-ups are important. Especially as women get older, according to the American Cancer Society, about one out of eight women develop invasive breast cancers before the age of 45. However, roughly two out of three women develop invasive breast cancers in women 55 and older.

“So, you know, just get it done. You never know when it could affect you,” says White.

For screening purposes, a woman is considered to be at average risk if she doesn’t have a personal history of breast cancer, a strong family history of breast cancer, or a genetic mutation known to increase risk of breast cancer (such as in a BRCA gene), and has not had chest radiation therapy before the age of 30. (See below for guidelines for women at high risk.)

Women between 40 and 44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year.

Women 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.

Women 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms. Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live at least 10 more years.

All women should understand what to expect when getting a mammogram for breast cancer screening – what the test can and cannot do.

Clinical breast exams are not recommended for breast cancer screening among average-risk women at any age.

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