Every patient is a unique individual, but they face many of the same challenges. Doctors can provide an important perspective because they see so many of women and hear the same concerns over and over. Their patients are often too busy and aren’t taking care of themselves the way they deserve.
We spoke recently with Dr. Andrew Oh of Capital Women’s Care in Hagerstown, MD, about some of the challenges his patients are dealing with them and his advice to them.
What do you want women to know about their health?
I want women to know that they are a major factor in their own health. One of the biggest challenges I see is that women want to get healthier, but they don’t know how. Our society supports a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits. We do have an issue with obesity and that is associated with a lot of other health issues like heart problems, diabetes and cancer. We find that patients want to lose weight but they don’t know where to start.
What can women do to take better care of their health?
We try to get them thinking about making just one change to start. They can start walking more or they can move toward eating healthier foods. What’s important is getting started. Once you take that first step, it’s easier to make the next one. It’s important that they know they really can make a difference for themselves. The choices they make matter.
There has been a lot of discussion about the best time to start getting a mammogram. What are you telling your patients?
Unless there is a family history of breast cancer or some other unusually high risk factor, I recommend that my patients start getting an annual mammogram when they turn 40. This gives us a baseline image that we can use for comparison to see if there are changes. I do recommend that they come in every year because a mammogram can detect cancers long before they experience any symptoms and the sooner we know, the easier it is to treat. They can coordinate the appointment with their annual exam to make it easier.
Do women have to wait until they are 40 to have that first mammogram?
Most women don’t need to come in earlier because the risk of cancer is so much lower. There are exceptions, however, such as if there is a family history of breast cancer. If close relatives such as a mother or aunt had breast cancer, a woman may want to start monitoring earlier. Also, if she feels a lump or has any unusual symptoms, her doctor may recommend a mammogram even if she isn’t yet 40.
How much of a difference does a 3D mammogram make?
Tomosynthesis, commonly called 3D mammography, has literally added new dimensions to imaging. Now, instead of seeing just two views of the breast, we can see different angles. This gives a more comprehensive picture. It’s like being able to flip through the pages of the book. This means we are more likely to detect breast cancer. It also means we can better determine if something is cancer or not, so it’s less likely that a woman will have to come back for additional testing.
What difference has Ella Health made for your patients?
Getting a mammogram can be a stressful experience. What I like about the Ella Health center is that it’s a warm environment where women feel welcomed. It’s a place where women can relax. And with the 3D exam, they know they’re getting the best care available. My patients have actually come back to me raving about it