SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Breast Cancer Awareness Month serves as a reminder of the importance of monitoring breast health to catch cancer early.

The most common breast-screening tool is a mammogram, which is an x-ray of the breast. There are other kinds of screenings, such as breast ultrasounds and MRIs, but most women who fall into the average-risk category for breast cancer are encouraged to get a mammogram.

“I just had mine, yes about two months ago I got my mammogram done,” said Tanya Williams of Springfield.

Doctors recommend that women 40 and older get regular mammograms, though you might have to start getting them a bit sooner if you have a family history of breast cancer.

Baystate Health Dr. Jennifer Hadro, Director of Breast Imaging, told 22News, “If somebody has say a first-degree relative, such as a mother or a sister who’s been diagnosed with breast cancer, the recommendations may be for earlier screenings in those patients as well as additional screenings in addition to mammogram.”

Early detection provides hope for the more than 260,000 women that are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. The five year relative survival rate for localized cancer that hasn’t spread is 90 percent.

“I’ve had quite a few family members that had it and overcome it. Some lost their breast, some didn’t… but I mean it’s good to get checked out for that,” said Williams.

“It’s very important to try to find cancers when they’re small and before they have spread because that can also decrease the aggressiveness of the therapy that’s needed to adequately treat the cancer,” said Dr. Hadro.

If you haven’t gone for your annual mammogram and fall into the average or high risk category, talk to your doctor today about scheduling an appointment.