Protecting your health should be more proactive than reactive. This means that you should do your best to catch possible ailments early to better your chances of being able to effectively manage and treat them. Regular consultations with your doctor or healthcare provider will help you catch issues, but you should also proactively schedule certain appointments.
One such appointment is a mammogram. As you get older, you are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer. In fact, roughly 13% of all women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. While mammograms can’t prevent breast cancer, they can help you find it as early as possible. If you’re wondering whether or not to get a mammogram, here is some information you should know.
What is a mammogram?
Firstly, it’s important to understand what a mammogram is. You may have heard stories from friends, but if you’ve not had one before, it stands you reasons you might have some confusion about what the procedure looks like and what it can effectively accomplish.
In short, a mammogram is a screening test that essentially takes an X-ray picture of the breast to help locate abnormalities and signs of breast cancer. While there are other methods of identifying abnormalities, mammograms are by far the most accurate and can locate issues up to three years before they can be felt.
What to Expect From a Mammogram Procedure
Mammograms are nothing to be concerned about. And although they may cause some minor discomfort, the procedure itself has little to no risk of injuring you. Mammograms are done by having you stand in front of an X-ray machine. A tech specialist will then place your breast on a small plate. Another plate will then press down on it from above (this is where you may experience some discomfort).
The same steps will then be repeated to capture images of the side of your breast. Then repeated once more on the other side.
Mammogram procedures typically last for about 20-30 minutes, depending on the experience of your technician. Afterward, a radiologist will analyze your X-rays and determine if there are any abnormalities or causes for concern.
How often should you get a mammogram?
It is generally recommended that women start scheduling annual mammograms after the age of 40. While this may seem excessive at first, it is important to remember that no procedure is foolproof. Normal breast tissue can hide cancer tissue and keep it from showing up in the images.
Failure to catch breast cancer earlier enough may result in a mastectomy or removal of the breast.
Furthermore, women 55 and older may switch to getting mammograms every 2 years if they choose, although they may still get them annually if they are at elevated risk of developing cancer due to lifestyle or family genetics.
Are Mammograms Bad for You?
Some women have raised concerns about mammograms potentially doing more harm than good due to the use of radiation during the X-ray process. However, modern-day mammograms use very little radiation (less than a normal chest X-ray) and are unlikely to accelerate or exacerbate any potential cancer.
If you are considering whether or not to schedule a mammogram, consider reaching out to a healthcare professional to help determine when would be the right time for you to begin proactively monitoring the health of your breasts. One way to do so is to reach out to a telehealth doctor for a quick consultation, such as those at UBERDOC.
We offer both in-person and telemedicine appointments, so you can always get the help you need. If you’re concerned about your health, don’t wait for it to get worse. Schedule an appointment with an UBERDOC today and get the help and treatment you deserve!