It can spread to other parts of your body. And it can take your life. It's breast cancer. While mammography can detect it early, fewer American women are getting mammograms.
Ingham Regional Medical Center radiation oncologist Dr. Janaki Moni says, "People are getting complacent. The information about mammograms has been around for a long time."
According to IRMC radiologist Dr. Lewis Jones, "Particularly when women get reports every year that their mammogram is normal, then they just sort of say well, I'll just skip it for a year or two."
The Centers for Disease Control reports a two percent decline in women getting yearly mammograms. Which means more than one million are not getting screened.
"When you miss getting your mammogram you stand a chance of getting cancer that has gotten larger in size, makes it harder to treat. You lessen your options," says Dr. Jones.
Dr. Moni explains, "If you diagnose it early and take it out, then your cure rates are much higher than when you wait until it becomes a big lump that someone can feel."
Experts say the drop in breast cancer cases could also be a result of the waning numbers of mammograms, potentially leaving hundreds of women at risk.
Dr. Jones says, "When you skip years you just don't know where you're at in your cycle. You don't know whether you're capturing lesions that have been there for a while or something that's there, just started."
A prime reason why mammograms for women 40 and up are so essential.