WHO 13 NEWS – During Breast Cancer Awareness month, radiologists want to remind people to get their preventative screenings.

Last October Dr. Jill Westercamp with Iowa Radiology joined Calyn Thompson on Today in Iowa, a month before she received her breast cancer diagnosis.

Her life-saving reminders and recommendations remain the same. Women with an average risk of breast cancer should begin screening at age 40 and get a mammogram every year.

“For women who are higher than normal risk, they should start earlier at 25,” Dr. Westercamp said. “So we should be talking about finding out what a woman’s risk is so that we can start the screening protocol earlier if we need to.”

How do you know your risk? Dr. Westercamp advises people to fill out an online risk assessment tool.

“If your number is greater than 20 percent for lifetime risk, you should begin MRI annually at age 25,” Dr. Westercamp explains. “And then at 30, we add in the mammograms, alternating those with the annual MRI.”

There is a risk for cancer at any age. Dr. Westercamp emphasizes early detection saves lives.

“Women need to know that breast cancer affects one in eight women. And if it’s not in your family, 75 percent of the women we diagnose do not have it in their family,” Dr. Westercamp said. “And so every woman at least at age 40 should be doing this. If you have a family history of ovarian or other types of cancers…go calculate [your risk] so that if you are at a higher-than-normal risk, we can start your screening earlier.”