As we celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness month, we want to make sure women understand the importance of mammograms and why they are necessary to a healthy future. A mammogram is an X-ray used as a screening tool for breast cancer. It detects abnormalities in the breast. Mammograms are considered a breast cancer early detection tool.
Why Is a Mammogram Necessary?
A mammogram is the best option to detect breast cancer early, sometimes even before a breast exam. As a woman’s age increases, so does her risk for breast cancer, making it even more important for women to have their mammograms regularly.
How Often Should a Woman Get a Mammogram?
Breast cancer screening guidelines have changed over the last few years. The American Cancer Society recommends that women ages 40-44 should have a choice when they want to start their mammograms. Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms each year and women 55 and older should get their mammograms every two years unless they choose to continue yearly mammograms. If a woman has a family history or genetic trait of breast cancer, she may need to start her mammograms early. Discussing with a health care provider is the best way to determine when screening should start.
How Does a Woman Prepare for a Mammogram?
There is nothing to prepare for prior to the mammogram, however, if you are pregnant or think you’re pregnant, make sure to alert your doctor before the mammogram. On the day of the mammogram, you shouldn’t wear any performs, body powder, deodorant or lotion, along with creams or ointments under your arms or near your breast. These items could affect the mammogram so avoid wearing them.
What Happens During a Mammogram?
Before your mammogram, you will be asked to remove your clothing from the waist up, along with any and all jewelry. You will then be asked to stand in front of the X-ray machine, placing your breast on an X-ray plate. A compressor will push your breast to get the best view, so your doctor will have images to review. There will be slight discomfort, but it will only last for a few moments.
What Happens After a Mammogram?
Once your mammogram is complete, the results will be provided to your doctor for review. Your doctor will then discuss the results to determine what they mean and if there are further tests that need to be completed.