Early Detection: Having a Mammogram Could Save Your Life!


Stephen Phillips, MD Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital

You’ve heard the statistics before. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. You might think you’re safe from breast cancer if no one in your family has had it, but family history is only one of the factors that determines your risk for the disease.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States,” said Dr. Stephen Phillips, breast radiologist and medical director of the Breast Care Center at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital. “It is very important for all women to increase their awareness about their personal risk of breast cancer.”

Did you know breast cancer is a leading cause of cancer death in women, regardless of race? Although Asian, Native American and Hispanic women have lower odds of developing breast cancer and dying from the disease, Caucasian women are more likely to be diagnosed, and African-American women are at greater risk of dying from breast cancer.

If your mother, sister or daughter has had breast cancer, your risk is doubled. But if that’s not the case, you’re not necessarily in the clear. Less than 15 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of the disease, which means it’s important to schedule the screenings that are right for your age.

“Monthly breast self-exams are something every woman should do starting in their 20s,” said Phillips. “Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast change promptly to their physician.” Additionally, a clinical breast exam should be performed every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and annually for women 40 and over. Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and should continue for as long as a woman is in good health.

Putting off your routine mammogram because you think your risk is lower now that you’re older is not a good idea. Among older women, waiting five years or more between mammograms increases your risk of dying from breast cancer. The majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer are older than 50, and the risk increases as you age. What’s more, two of every three invasive breast cancers found are in women 55 and up.

So, now you understand the importance of yearly mammograms. But of equal importance is where you have your mammogram. The Breast Care Center at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital offers women a life-saving difference. Staffed by renowned breast radiologists, the Breast Care Center is the leading breast imaging facility in Fort Bend County and provides some of the best diagnostic services available, including 3-D Mammography, Digital Mammography, Diagnostic Ultrasound, Breast MRI, Molecular Breast Imaging, MRI-guided Biopsy, Ultrasound Biopsy and Stereotactic Biopsy.

Should your care need to extend beyond your yearly mammogram, a dedicated breast care navigator will guide you through the emotional and complex journey from diagnosis to survivorship – so you can focus on healing.