UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) – For this Aspirus Medical Monday, the focus is on Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which aims to promote screening and prevention of the disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year in the United States, about 240,000 women get breast cancer and 42,000 women die from the disease. Aspirus Health Radiologist John Pietila shares the importance of keeping up with annual mammograms.

“It works out to about one in eight risk that a woman will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, which is about 13 percent,” said Pietila. “Mammography is the best screening tool that we have for breast cancer. It’s important that women get mammograms for early detection of breast cancer, which can detect breast cancer when it’s at an earlier stage and hasn’t spread and it also has been shown to help reduce breast cancer deaths.”

Pietila says the suggested age for women to begin annual breast cancer screenings is at age 40. He shares some symptoms of breast cancer to look out for.

“Things that we would recommend that you see your doctor and get a mammogram for would be, the number one thing would be a lump or a mass in the breast so if there’s something that a woman is able to feel that feels like a lump or a mass, it’s important to get into the doctor and have that worked up further with a mammogram. Other things like breast swelling is another symptom that needs further investigation and breast or nipple pain, particularly if it’s in a certain spot in the breast. That would also be something we wanted women to get a mammogram for.

“And nipple retraction or nipple discharge is another thing that can be a sign of breast cancer. Also, skin changes are something that needs to be further investigated. And really, most women if they notice something that has changed, that just doesn’t feel right. You know, that’s something that they should at least have their doctor look at and decide whether or not they would need a mammogram or an ultrasound,” said Pietila.

Aspirus offers different types of breast imaging and breast procedures. Pietila added that Aspirus has a rapid turnaround for biopsies. To schedule a mammogram, you can online at aspirus.org or by calling your preferred Aspirus clinic location.