10 Important Things to Know About Mammograms

  1. First of all, mammograms can save your life. Women should start doing mammograms every year at age 40 or earlier if they are at high risk. Finding breast cancer at an early stage decreases the risk of dying from the disease by 30% or more.
  2. You shouldn’t be afraid of mammography, as it’s a fast procedure that lasts about 15-20 minutes with minimal discomfort. Mammography is also safe, as there is a very small amount of radiation exposure.
  3. If you are under your 50 or have dense breasts, try to get a digital mammogram. A digital mammogram allows your doctor to record it on computer and enlarge certain sections to look at them more closely.
  4. Always bring your previous mammogram results if you have these.
  5. Be loyal. Once you find a clinic you trust, try to visit it every year, so you can have your mammograms every year.
  6. Mammography is known as the most powerful breast cancer detection procedure. Though, mammography can miss about 20% of cancers, which can just not be visible with the help of this technique.
  7. Besides the mammography you should also consider such important tools as clinical breast examination, breast self-exam, ultrasound and possibly MRI. However, these can be rather used as complementary tools. Today there are no better replacements or substitutes of the mammogram.
  8. If you have an unusual result that requires further investigations and testing, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have breast cancer. American Cancer Society states that about 12% of women who have mammography need more tests. About 8-10% of them will have to pass biopsy and more than 80% of the biopsies will show that there is no cancer. It’s absolutely normal to feel worried when you are asked to pass some more tests, but that is not the reason to think about the worst until you get more details.
  9. All women should consider a mammogram once per year starting from the age of 40.
  10. Having a higher risk of breast cancer (family history of ovarian or breast cancer, radiation treatment to the chest earlier, etc.) you are recommended to begin annual mammograms a little bit earlier, around your 30. You can always contact your doctor regarding individual screening plan.