By getting regular mammograms, you will have a clear picture that can be used to assess changes in your breast anatomy. The 3D mammogram is now the gold standard for examining your breast radiographically and works well with dense breasts. I highly recommend that everyone goes to a location that has this new 3D mammogram capability. If you don’t do regular mammograms and take advantage of 3D mammogram technology, you are setting yourself up for surprises that you may not be able to deal with.

Let me tell you a story. Two months ago, I developed a sudden inflammation in my right breast. I realized I had not had a mammogram in 2.5 years. I have been very busy with patients at work, dealing with business decisions, and my mother had a protracted course with dementia and passed away. I had ignored myself and taken care of everything else, a common situation – maybe even for you.

I got my 3D mammogram result and it was a big change from previous mammograms. I ended up getting an MRI and then multiple biopsies within 3 days. In the end, I didn’t have breast cancer, but it looked like it initially.

If you have no family history and have had many negative mammograms, you can probably get by with mammograms every 1.5-2 years. If you are over 60, overweight, drink more than 7 alcoholic drinks a week, and don’t exercise, you have an increased risk EVEN THOUGH you have no family history, and you need them every year.

If you have a family history of breast cancer in your direct relatives, such as your mother, grandmother, and sister, you need to get a mammogram every year (and ideally a 3D mammogram). If you have a family history, the exact factors I mentioned above – body fat, exercise, alcohol- plus a good diet can be modulated to help your body avoid breast cancer.

You might want to consider getting genetic tested for the BRCA genes to understand your genetic tendency to develop breast cancer in your lifetime.

Remember, only a mammogram and breast self-exam will help you detect cancer early, get surgery and treatment early, and survive to enjoy the rest of your life.

For those who do detect their cancer early, Dr. Cherup performs many post-mastectomy breast augmentations that help her patients feel like themselves again.