Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the U.S. according to the secondCenters for Disease Control and Prevention. Statistics show about 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over their lifetime. Although it is not always possible to prevent breast cancer, it can be detected early with breast care processess. Finding breast cancer through mammography often allows localized cancers to be removed without resorting to mastectomy (breast removal).
What Is A Mammogram?
A mammogram is a type of low-dose x-ray that enables a radiologist to identify changes in the breast tissue. These tests are often recommended to women as they get older to detect and diagnose breast disease, as well as to women with complaints of breast pain, lumps or nipple discharge. Mammograms usually detect breast cancers, cysts and benign tumors before they can be detected by palpation.
There are two main forms of mammograms: screening mammograms and diagnostic mammograms. Screening mammograms typically are used to find signs of breast cancer in women who have not experienced any symptoms. During a screening mammogram, x-rays are taken of the breasts from different angles to get an in-depth view of the tissues.
Diagnostic mammograms are used to look at the breasts if a woman has experienced certain symptoms or if a change was seen on a screening mammogram. During a diagnostic mammogram, the radiologist takes extra images of the breasts for diagnostic purposes. In some cases they will look at the breast with ultrasound as well. Diagnostic mammograms may also be used for women who previously have been treated for breast cancer.
Women have received mammograms for more than 30 years. Over the past 15 years, there have been many incredible technological advancements that have greatly improved the techniques used and the accuracy of the results.
Why Should You Get A Mammogram For Breast Care?
Breast cancer may develop long before you feel a lump. Mammograms are an invaluable tool for detecting breast cancer early. When diagnosed early, localized breast cancer has a 99 percent five-year survival rate according to the American Cancer Society.
The average mammogram takes about 20 minutes, making it a worthwhile investment of time to potentially save your life. Mammograms drastically reduce the risk of needing a mastectomy. A mastectomy is a surgical procedure to remove all breast tissue as a way to prevent or treat breast cancer.
In the early stages of breast cancer, a patient may receive several treatment options in addition to mastectomy such as a lumpectomy. A lumpectomy is a breast-conserving surgery in which only the tumor is removed from the breast. While both procedures are effective for preventing breast cancer, a lumpectomy is not suitable for all patients with breast cancer.
Women who have experienced abnormal breast pain or other symptoms should undergo a mammogram. Mammograms allow your physician to evaluate breast pain when patient histories or physical examinations are not conclusive. New lumps in the breast or armpit, thickening or swelling of the breast, dimpling or irritation of breast skin, pulling in of the nipple, flaky or reddened skin around the nipple, or nipple discharge (including blood) may be symptoms of breast cancer.
Who Should Get A Mammogram?
According to the Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) and the American College of Radiology (ACR), women should start receiving annual mammograms starting at age 40. Mammograms should be performed yearly until 54 when mammograms can be extended to every two years if desired.
Women at an increased risk of breast cancer, such as patients using hormone replacement therapy or those with a family history, past breast cancer or genetic tendency, should speak with their healthcare provider about the benefits of more frequent mammograms.
Are Mammograms Safe?
Mammograms are considered safe as they only expose the breasts to a small amount of radiation. The benefits of undergoing a mammogram usually outweigh any possible harm caused by radiation exposure. Today, mammogram machines emit only a low radiation dose to create high-resolution images.
If there is a chance that you may be pregnant, it is important to tell the x-ray technologist. However, mammograms usually can be performed safely during pregnancy if a woman is suspected to be at risk for breast cancer.
Schedule An Appointment Today For Your Breast Care
To prepare for a mammogram, it is important to first choose a certified mammogram facility. Schedule a time for the test when your breasts are least likely to be tender such as two weeks after your last period.
Bring any prior mammogram images you may have to the facility and do not wear deodorant before the test. The metallic particles in creams, lotions, perfumes and antiperspirants will be visible on your mammogram. For more information or to schedule a visit, contact Raleigh Gynecology & Wellness, PA.