How will you celebrate 40

What is a great way to celebrate turning 40? Plan a dream vacation? Throw a blowout bash? Schedule a mammogram? The last option may throw some people for a loop; however, for two Sanford physicians, scheduling a mammogram was number one on their priority list.

What is a great way to celebrate turning 40? Plan a dream vacation? Throw a blowout bash? Schedule a mammogram? The last option may throw some people for a loop; however, for two Sanford physicians, scheduling a mammogram was number one on their priority list as they geared up for their 40th birthdays. General surgeon Melissa Johnson, MD and Plastic and reconstructive surgeon Heather Karu, MD see women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer coming through the doors of their clinics every day.

“I am always stunned at how young the women in my clinic are who have breast cancer. While I see a tremendous number of women between 40 and 50 with the disease, I also find that many of those diagnoses are found at an early stage because of mammography,” said Dr. Johnson.

Mammograms use low dose X-rays to examine a woman’s breasts. Most recently, digital mammography has become one of the most trusted sources of screening technology to hit screening centers. Digital mammography uses a computer to create high quality images of the breast, increasing the physician’s ability to detect cancer when it is most treatable.

The American Cancer Society recommends women age 40 and older have screening mammograms and clinical breast exams every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health. Furthermore, women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam as part of a periodic health exam by a health professional – at least every three years.

"It is so important to get mammograms at a young age because breasts are very dense. If a family member has had breast cancer, women should have their first mammogram at least ten years prior to the age of when the family member’s initial diagnosis was made," said Dr. Johnson.

For Drs. Karu and Johnson, breast cancer awareness also hits close to home. Both physicians’ grandmothers were diagnosed with breast cancer in their mid-sixties. Today, they are healthy and vibrant in their early 90s.

"I believe my grandmother is here today because of early detection. It is just another reason why I am getting my mammogram," said Dr. Karu.

It is never too late to get a mammogram. Call Sanford Breast Health Institute at (605) 328-5244 to schedule a mammogram.