October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To deter the occurrence of breast cancer, mammograms are a crucial tool in the early detection, which is one of the most effective ways to beat breast cancer, if it happens to come into your life. In this blog, we’ll address some of the most commonly asked questions about mammogram guidelines to help you better understand the screening process and make informed decisions about your feminine health.
What is a Mammogram, and Why Do I Need One?
A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast that can detect abnormalities, including early signs of breast cancer, before they become noticeable. Regular mammograms are essential because they can detect breast cancer at an earlier, more treatable stage, greatly improving the chances of successful treatment and survival. Having routine mammograms scheduled every year will provide you with an early detection and keep your odds of beating the cancer—if any—high.
When Should I Start Getting Mammograms?
The recommended age to start regular mammograms is typically around 40. However, this can vary based on individual risk factors. Risk factors include older age, the BRCA1 and the BRCA2 gene, family history, etc. It’s crucial to discuss your unique situation with your OBGYN, as some women with a family history of breast cancer or specific risk factors may need to start earlier.
How Often Should I Get a Mammogram?
For most women, having a mammogram every year is recommended. However, your screening frequency might differ based on your age and risk profile. Most insurance policies cover women’s annual visits for those over 40 years old.
Are Mammograms Painful?
Mammograms can be uncomfortable, as the breasts are compressed briefly during the procedure to obtain clear images. The discomfort is typically short-lived, lasting only a few seconds. The potential discomfort is far outweighed by the lifesaving benefits of early cancer detection.
What if I Have Dense Breast Tissue?
Having dense breast tissue can make it harder to detect abnormalities on a mammogram. In such cases, we may recommend additional screening methods, such as breast ultrasound or MRI, to ensure comprehensive breast health evaluation.
Are Mammograms Safe, and Do They Emit Harmful Radiation?
Mammograms are considered safe. The radiation exposure from a mammogram is minimal and carefully monitored to keep it as low as possible while still producing high-quality images. The benefits of early cancer detection far outweigh the potential risks of radiation exposure.
Understanding mammogram guidelines and addressing common questions is crucial to taking charge of your breast health. Regular mammograms are a cornerstone of preventive care, offering the best chance for early breast cancer detection. Your health and peace of mind are worth the effort invested in these screenings.
Still have questions? Read about our in-office mammography here.
To schedule your 3D mammography appointment and lower your risk of becoming a breast cancer patient, call us at (972) 542-8884. You can also schedule an appointment using our easy online form. Let’s catch it early!