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5 Encouraging Facts About Mammograms

5 Encouraging Facts About Mammograms

Getting a mammogram is an important move in protecting your health. It’s one of the best ways to detect breast cancer when it’s in its earliest stages, which is when it’s often most treatable. But there are a lot of misconceptions about mammograms, some of which you may have even heard.

A mammogram is a safe and effective screening tool and it has saved millions of lives. There’s really no reason to put it off any longer. In observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. Alan Patterson explains five encouraging facts about mammograms. 

It can help even if you don’t have a family history

A lot of women think that they don’t need to get mammograms because they don’t have a family history of cancer. But the truth is that 85-90% of women who have breast cancer do not have any family history. You can’t assume that you’re in the clear if you don’t have a family history.

The good news is that it’s most likely the case that you don’t have cancer, either, but you want to get screened to be certain. It’s a quick and relatively easy way to get peace of mind. 

The amount of radiation you get is negligible

A lot of women are nervous about radiation exposure from a mammogram. But the truth is that a mammogram offers only about the same amount of radiation as what you get in your average dental exam. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates that mammograms can’t exceed 2 rads (radiation absorbed dose), and the truth is that most mammograms come in at less than this level of radiation.

Mammograms still work even if you have dense breasts

Even if your breasts are dense, mammograms can still be effective and you should still get them. However, it’s definitely true that having dense breast tissue can make it more difficult to detect lesions on a mammogram. Although mammograms may be more uncomfortable if you have dense breast tissue, they’re even more important.

If you have dense breast tissue, you’ll need to get regular mammograms (at least once a year) and will need to keep up with self-exams as well. 

Detecting early cancer is greater than the risk of false positives

False positives on mammograms are possible but they are the exception. By contrast, the amount of benefit to be gained from the early detection of cancer is much greater. Detecting cancer as early as possible has the best chances of saving your life and decreasing the amount of treatment that you’ll need.

Finding a lump doesn’t always means cancer

Even if we do find something on a mammogram, that doesn’t always mean that what we find is cancer. If we do find a lump during a mammogram, we’ll remove the lump and have a biopsy performed on the tissue. Many lumps are found to be completely benign. It’s always better to know for sure than to wonder.

Not everyone should wait until they’re over 40

Although most women can start having routine mammograms after age 40, some women need to start having them earlier. If you have a first-degree relative (your mother or your sister) who had cancer, you’ll need to start getting screenings 10 years before the age of your relative’s cancer. For example, if your sister was diagnosed with cancer at age 42, you’ll need to start getting mammograms at age 32. Your insurance company should pay for it, as well.

If you haven’t gotten a mammogram yet, there’s no better time to start. Call Dr. Alan Patterson today or request an appointment online.

 

COVID-19 Update:

 

  1. We are still seeing obstetrics patients in our office to ensure that our pregnant patients are getting the prenatal care they need. If you are pregnant, please call us to book your appointment today. We are also seeing patients in our office for annual well-woman exams, as well as those who are having gynecological problems or emergencies.
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