Annual mammogram caught my cancer early enough to avoid chemo
Dr. Elizabeth Malko is a family physician who works for Florida Blue as the vice president and chief medical officer for Medicare Solutions.
No one expects to get breast cancer, especially when you have your annual mammogram faithfully.
So, I was as surprised as anyone. I’m a family physician. I did my monthly breast self-exams and had my mammogram and physician breast exam every year. And then six years ago, my mammogram spotted a small lesion. It was nothing I, as a physician who’s done thousands of breasts exams, could feel. Neither could the breast surgeon.
I had lobular breast cancer, which spreads superficially and doesn’t form lumps, making it harder to find – especially by physical exam.
But I was lucky. It was very small, less than a centimeter and my lymph nodes were negative. I was able to avoid chemotherapy because it was caught so early.
So not only can having your mammogram save your life, by having them regularly and therefore catching a cancer early, you may also be able to avoid chemotherapy, which, while often lifesaving, is totally not pleasant.
Anyone can get breast cancer and anyone can reduce their chance of advanced disease and/or death by following the recommendations of the America Cancer Society and the U.S. Public Health Task Force on when and how often to get your mammogram.
Many women don’t get their mammograms because they are afraid to find out they have cancer. It is a very scary diagnosis, but it literally can save your life. Please don’t delay.
Millions of women get their mammogram each year. Join them today! If you are age 50 to 74, schedule your mammogram by calling your primary care doctor, OB/GYN or an in-network Mammogram Imaging Center.
The Florida Blue health plan covers preventive screenings like mammograms at no extra cost when members see an in-network doctor or provider. For more information or help finding a doctor, go to Find a Doctor and More.