If you’re a woman over the age of 40, your doctor may have mentioned that you need to start getting mammograms. These exams use imaging to look at your breast tissue for any abnormalities that could be early signs of breast cancer.
Like many conditions, breast cancer is most treatable when it’s detected early. You may be nervous about the test, but it’s manageable. Dr. Alan Patterson explains more about why it’s important to get a mammogram.
You may think that if you’ve had one mammogram and the results came back clear, that should be good enough. But this isn’t the case, because repeated mammograms help the doctor to monitor changes from one exam to the next.
The ultimate goal of conducting mammograms is to detect cancerous changes at the earliest possible stage when survival rates are significantly better. While Dr. Patterson still recommends that you do monthly breast self-exams, a mammogram is far superior at detecting changes that you might miss. Breast lumps might be too small to be felt but can be seen on a mammogram.
Even if you don’t have a family history of breast cancer, you could still get it. In fact, about 1 in 8 women, or 13%, will eventually develop breast cancer. Although your risk is definitely higher if you have a family history of breast cancer, 85% of women with breast cancer have no family history of the disease. The risk of developing breast cancer also increases as you get older.
Some other factors that might put you at greater risk of having breast cancer include the following:
Your reproductive history can play a role, too. You’re more at risk if you didn’t have children, you had your first period before age 12, or you started menopause after age 55.
One reason that you might have put off getting a mammogram is the squishing (also called compression) of your breasts as part of the exam. Admittedly, this compression can be a bit uncomfortable, though it is brief.
But this compression is important for the purposes of the exam. Compressing the breasts is important for the following reasons:
Dr. Patterson is a part owner of a breast imaging clinic, the Mammogram and Breast Ultrasound Center in Boca Raton, Florida. You don’t have to go to a new, unfamiliar provider to have this procedure done. Being in a facility you already know can help to make you more comfortable during the procedure.
If you’ve been putting off getting a mammogram, the time is right to get one done. It only takes about 20 minutes. In most cases, you’ll get the results that everything is fine. But in case it’s not, early detection could very well save your life. Call Dr. Alan Patterson at our office in Coral Springs, Florida, to schedule a mammogram or request an appointment online.
Patients may not be accompanied by other people at their appointments.