Many medical professionals recommend women have their breasts screened regularly. However, elderly women may not necessarily need them as often. There are both good and bad reasons for senior women to get mammograms, and Lehigh Valley senior care experts discuss some of these advantages and disadvantages.
The Benefits of an Early Diagnosis
Catching cancerous cells as early as possible opens up a wide variety of additional treatment options. Just as with many other forms of cancer, breast cancer is often treatable before it has metastasized. Throughout their 40s, women should receive one mammogram every year. However, after turning 55, those appointments can be scheduled two to four years apart depending on personal risk factors.
The Mental Toll of a False Diagnosis
Though it is important to catch breast cancer early, a false diagnosis can devastate an older woman. According to the National Cancer Institute, there are over 200,000 false positives every year, and nearly 23,000 of those result in a biopsy recommendation. Aggressive treatment options such as biopsies can be incredibly hard on senior women and even put their overall health at risk.
The Speed of the Procedure
Unlike many other types of screenings, mammograms are extremely quick, and the results are almost immediate. Most appointments last just 20 minutes, and the exposure to radiation is insignificant. To keep stress levels to a minimum, many facilities now provide women with their results before they leave. This provides peace of mind knowing exactly what the mammogram has revealed and what they can do about it.
The Possibility of Discomfort
Breast tissue is extremely sensitive, and some women experience discomfort during their mammograms. As a general rule, mammograms should never be painful or unbearable. Only a small amount of pressure is placed on the soft tissue, and it should not leave any bruises or discoloration. Over-the-counter pain medication can be taken 30 minutes to an hour before the appointment to minimize the discomfort. Women who feel pain should immediately notify their technologist.
Always make sure your senior loved one checks with her doctor to see if she needs a mammogram. To learn more about health and wellness for elderly women, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our dedicated caregivers can provide transportation to medical appointments and encourage healthy habits to prevent cancer and other serious conditions. For more information on the live-in and respite home care Lehigh Valley, PA, families trust, call one of our knowledgeable Care Managers today at 484-350-3874 to schedule a free in-home consultation.