We all know women should start getting their yearly mammogram at age 40. But what should younger women do to stay on top of their breast health?

Dr. Katie Legarza is the Breast Center Physician Liaison for Radiation Oncology at Saint Mary's. She's taking calls in tonight's Ask the Doctor segment. If you have a question, call 858-2222 between 5pm-6pm tonight.

Why is it important for women over 40 to get an annual mammogram?

About 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lives and when breast cancer is detected early, in the localized stage, the five year survival rate is 98 percent. Early detection of breast cancer is key for preventing the spread of the disease. The sooner breast cancer is detected, the sooner treatment can begin.

What about women with dense breast tissue, what type of screening should they receive?

Nearly 40 percent of women have dense breast tissue and it is believed they have a greater risk of developing cancer than women who do not have dense breast tissue. Finding cancers in women with dense breast tissue can be limited with mammography alone. That is why an Automated Breast Ultrasound Screening (ABUS), the region's only FDA approved technology to screen for dense breast tissue, is recommended for these women. A mammography screening can be used to determine if someone has dense breast tissue.

What else can women, especially those under the age of 40, do to help prevent breast cancer?

For women ages 20-39 who are also without previous symptoms, a clinical breast examination is recommended once every three years, with self-examination occurring on a monthly basis. The best time to perform a breast self-examination is the day after your monthly period ends. Becoming familiar with the look and feel of their breasts offers the best chance for a young woman to notice any changes.

Women should look for changes in how the breast or nipple feels and looks. Any unusual nipple discharge or lumps should be investigated by a healthcare professional, although not all lumps are cancerous.

How can women obtain a low-cost screening mammogram?

To help focus attention on the importance of early screening and detection for this potentially fatal disease, Saint Mary's is offering $89 mammograms for the month of October. Saint Mary's will also be offering weekend mammography clinics at their south Reno campus on 18653 Wedge Parkway on Saturday, October 25 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For more information, call 775-770-3187 or visit