Mammograms are extremely important when it comes to the early detection of breast cancer. Women have a 13% chance of developing breast cancer, making it the most common cancer that women get. Breast cancer awareness and early detection help women find more treatment options and a much greater survival rate. If you haven’t gone for a mammogram yet, you probably have lots of questions. Here are some of the most common questions about mammograms.
1. What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is a picture of your breasts that is taken with an x-ray machine. This picture helps find breast masses and lumps that could potentially be cancerous. While many women perform breast self-examinations, this is not enough to find lumps that are too small to feel. Mammograms are essential in cancer detection and should not be skipped.
2. What are the benefits of getting a mammogram?
A great benefit of getting regular mammograms is that it gives you the peace of mind you need to know that your breasts are healthy. This high-quality screening is also an essential tool for early breast cancer detection. Breast cancer that is found early has a much higher survival rate.
3. How do I prepare for a mammogram?
Mammograms are a simple procedure, so there is nothing you can do to prepare for the exam. However, there are a few things you can do to make your mammogram go smoothly. Wear an outfit that consists of a top and a bottom. This makes it easier to undress from the waist up. Avoid wearing jewelry and lotions and creams around your armpit and breast area.
4. What happens during a mammogram?
A mammogram takes images of your breasts from different angles. A machine compresses your breast to spread out your breast tissue. This helps to get a clear picture that a radiologist can then read. The radiologist will check for any abnormalities and compare them to any previous mammograms. He will then write a report which will get sent to your doctor and can also show up on any medical portal you may be enrolled in.
5. What is a screening mammogram?
A screening mammogram is a routine procedure on a woman that has no concerning signs and symptoms. They are considered preventative and part of routine care.
6. What is a diagnostic mammogram?
A diagnostic mammogram is for women who have found an abnormality in their breasts. This type of screening is a little bit more involved than a routine screening mammogram.
7. What is the difference between a 2D and 3D mammogram?
The same machine performs both a 2D and 3D mammogram. The 2D takes two pictures: one on the top and one on the side. On the other hand, the 3D mammogram takes x-rays from all angles and creates an image on a computer. Overall, the 3D mammogram is more accurate and less likely to give a false positive.
8. When should I start getting regular mammograms?
It is recommended that women start getting mammograms at the age of 50. For those who are younger, your doctor will discuss your risk factors and health history to determine if you need one before the age of 50.
9. How often should I get a mammogram?
It is recommended that women under the age of 55 receive annual mammograms. When turning 55, you may be able to switch to getting a mammogram every other year if you have no risk factors. There are varying sources on how often you should get a mammogram, so it is best to discuss it with your doctor.
10. Will it hurt when I get a mammogram?
The x-ray machine will compress your breasts. This may make you slightly uncomfortable but should not be painful.
11. How long will it take?
The entire process of getting a mammogram should only take about 15 minutes. Each breast will only be compressed for about 20 seconds, and then the imaging part of the test is over.
12. Am I at risk for radiation when I get a mammogram?
While a mammogram does expose you to a small amount of radiation, your technician will use the lowest possible amount to get a clear image. Modern mammogram machines do an excellent job of exposing you to only a small amount of radiation.
13. Should I get a breast MRI or ultrasound instead of a mammogram?
While breast MRI and ultrasound have their place, mammograms are the best at detecting abnormalities and cancer. Most doctors will recommend a mammogram over the other tests.
14. How much does a mammogram cost?
Those who have health insurance may find that their insurance will cover the entire cost of a preventative mammogram. Others may have to pay an insurance deductible before the test. If you are paying out of pocket, the prices will vary depending on what facility you visit. However, they are generally inexpensive compared to other procedures.
15. What is a follow-up mammogram?
A follow-up mammogram is also called a diagnostic mammogram. The purpose of it is to get more images of your breast tissue to check for any abnormalities that showed up on your first test. If you are called to have a follow-up appointment, it does not mean that cancer was found. It is just an extra exam to help give your doctor a clearer picture of your breast health.
16. When will I get the results of my mammogram?
When getting your mammogram, ask your technician how long results normally take. Typically you can expect your results within two weeks. Many follow-up mammograms get the results before they leave the appointment.
17. Am I likely to get breast cancer if it does not run in my family?
Getting regular mammograms is so important because up to 75 percent of women who get breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease.
18. I am a man; should I think about getting a mammogram too?
Mammograms are not typically offered to men. They are difficult to perform on men since they have much less breast tissue. However, a man diagnosed with gynecomastia, a hormone imbalance, is more likely to need a mammogram.
19. Can I get a mammogram if I have breast implants?
Breast implants do not affect a mammogram. However, if you have them, it is best to let the technician know before you are tested.
20. What percentage of mammograms end up finding cancer?
After getting a mammogram, around 10 percent of women will receive a call for a follow-up with more testing. Of these women, only about 0.5 percent find out that they have cancer.
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Image Source: Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash