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If you have a family history of breast cancer, when should you start receiving mammogram screenings?

By May 8, 2009 - 12:20pm
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I have a very strong family history of breast cancer. On my father's side it has affected every woman for three generations. Unfortunately, I am the next woman in the lineup. About a year ago, I asked my doctor how early I could get a mammogram screening; I am currently 22 years old. She told me they usually are not recommended until you are in your 30's and most insurance companies recognize this. I followed up with my insurance and they actually do not even cover mammograms until a woman is over 30. They suggested maybe receiving an ultrasound. How important is to for me to get either a mammogram or ultra sound at 22 with a very strong family history of breast cancer?

In relation to this, I also have heard various information about soy products and their correlation to breast cancer in women. I have soy products everyday due to my lactose "unfriendly" stomach. I consume various milk alternative such as, soy yogurt, soy milk, and soy protein. How important is it to avoid these products?

I would appreciate any opinions, suggestions, or advice on this subject.

Thank you!

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EmpowHER Guest

I also come from a long history of breast cancer survivors and I had my first mammogram at age 25 since I am at a high risk to develop it. I tend to have them done every five years until I reach 40, than every year.

The most important thing is to check yourself weekly, monthly, whatever you feel comfortable with. If you have any question as to whether you may have something questionable, see your physician immediately. It is important to find something early.

Another good thing is with young breasts, we tend have have much denser tissue and a mammogram may not be able to detect something. An ultrasound may be better in detecting any abnormalities so don't be discouraged.

Genetic testing of course usually isn't covered by insurance but may be good just for early detection. I have not done it myself but I do check weekly for any abnormalities. I hope this adds to what Susan has already suggested. Keep us posted.

May 9, 2009 - 9:35am

Thank you very much for all of the information, It is extremely helpful. It is confusing since there are so many different opinions on which options are the best. I do agree that a BRCA test would be beneficial, although it is very scary to me. The thought of it being negative with a chance of still getting breast cancer, seems unsettling. And what if it is positive? Do the majority of women elect to getting mastectomies?

I do not know how old each family member was when they were diagnosed with breast cancer, so I will take that as my first step. Is it even clear how concerned I should be about my own fate? I understand there are so many variables to every individual situation. I am kind of a worry wart about even small concerns.

I will also try to avoid soy, because I would not want to increase my risk. There are so many studies out there it is difficult to fully trust one over another. I mean one day red wine is good for your health and another it has been shown to increase the risk of cancer in women.

It may sound silly to actually admit, but I have never been taught how to give myself a proper breast examine. I mean I have seen the diagrams in my doctor's office and familiar with the motions, but am unclear of what I am exactly looking for. I understand I want to make sure there are no lumps, but how can you tell a small lump from just simply breast tissue? It actually seems quite embarrassing to admit that at almost 23 years old, but true nonetheless.

May 8, 2009 - 3:11pm
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