With breast cancer being the most commonly diagnosed cancer in American women it’s now more important than ever to educate women on the importance of getting regular mammograms. While most women won’t need to get them during their early adult years, it’s important to understand why mammograms are necessary, who should be getting them and how often you should get one.
No matter your age, it is important to note that if a lump is detected during a physical breast exam a mammogram should be performed. According to the American Cancer Society, women should get a mammogram once a year starting around the age of 40. This doesn’t include the self-exams you should be performing on yourself once a month to check for lumps. Women 55 years old or older should get a mammogram every two years.
Of course, if breast cancer runs in your family then you may need to get a mammogram earlier. It’s important that you talk to your gynecologist right away about your family history in order to determine whether or not you should start getting regular mammograms sooner. After all, a mammogram is the best diagnostic tool to be able to detect breast cancer earlier. This simple tool could just end up saving your life.
A mammogram only takes about 20 minutes to complete. A machine will be used to compress the breast for a couple seconds in order to capture the necessary images. While the compression may be uncomfortable it shouldn’t be painful. If you do feel pain it’s important that you let us know. It can take up to 10 days to get results.
A radiologist will look at the images captured during your mammogram and explain findings on a scale from 0 to 6, with 0 meaning that there were no abnormalities and 6 being malignant breast cancer that has already been detected with a biopsy. If there are any suspicious findings, a biopsy may be recommended to test the breast tissue for the presence of cancer cells.
If it’s believed that the findings are benign then a biopsy will not be necessary; however, we may recommend that you come in more regularly for routine mammograms.
Whether you have questions about getting a mammogram or you want to find out if you could benefit from this diagnostic test, call your OBGYN today to learn more. Taking precautions now could protect you in the future.