By Robin Clutters

(CBS4) – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the perfect time to remind women about the importance of getting recommended screenings. Breast Cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States.

Dr. Laura Barke is a breast radiologist with Invision Sally Jobe at HealthONE. On CBSN Denver, she told us women should get mammograms every year starting at age 40. Women with a family history of breast cancer will want to check with their doctor about possibly getting screened sooner. Dr. Barke says ever since mammography began, the mortality rate of breast cancer dropped about 38%.

“While it is sometimes anxiety-provoking to go get a test, it is important to do so because we have data to show that it works. And I should mention that most of the women that come in for their screening are told everything looks fine.”

Dr. Barke stresses the importance of doing a monthly self-breast exam.  If you find any new lumps or bumps, make sure to see your doctor as soon as possible.

“An annual exam with your doctor is also very important. They can find things that you may not be able to find on your breast exam.”

In 2017, the State of Colorado passed legislation that requires doctors inform women what their breast density is because it does elevate their risk for breast cancer. Dr. Barke says women with higher density may need more than a mammogram.

“It may be a little more difficult to read their screening mammogram, so other tools like an ultrasound or MRI may be added,” says Dr. Barke. “Genetic testing is sometimes important too when someone has a family history of breast cancer.”

If the pandemic kept you from getting your checkup last year, Dr. Barke says now is the time to get screened.

“We are starting to see more people come in now and we’re very happy they are, because we know this is a test that can save their life. So please don’t hesitate and don’t feel bad if you haven’t come in. We will welcome you with open arms.”

Robin Clutters