Mammography-What You Need to Know

Woman waiting for mammogram

Recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness in October leaves no better time to talk about mammograms. Getting one is cringed upon by many women but these are necessary as we age. There are benefits to mammograms, and if you haven’t went for your first exam yet, here are some things to prepare you.

Of course the biggest benefit of getting a mammogram is early detection of cancer. Spotting cancer early leads to a higher chance of recovery. Early detection also allows women to keep their natural breast versus having to get a mastectomy. Mammograms do not hurt. You may experience some unpleasantness but it’s not really painful. The whole process itself is brief and there is little radiation used during the test. The physician reading your results looks for changes such as white small spots, lumps, or tumors, and other suspicious areas that could be signs of cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, at age 40 women should start getting annual exams. If not, by age 45 at the latest. Women 55 and older can continue with annual exams or switch to every other year if they choose.

There are also some risks linked to mammograms, it is possible for healthy breast tissue to disguise a cancerous tumor so that it won’t show on your test results. Furthermore, it’s possible for the test to show an abnormality that can appear to be cancerous when in reality it is not. It’s important to realize that mammograms aren’t flawless. Things can get overlooked and inaccuracies can happen, but generally speaking the advantages outweigh the cons. Most importantly, females should give themselves an exam once a month. The more you do this, the more you will learn about yourself and be able to recognize anything unusual.

Click on the link below to learn the 5 steps of a breast self-exam.

http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/self_exam/bse_steps

Sources: National Cancer Institute