Though maintaining your breast health is important all year round, this month is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, giving October a unique chance to raise awareness about the key role that breast cancer screenings play in detecting the disease early – when it is most treatable.
It is important to note that mammograms are not a preventative measure for breast cancer. Instead, annual breast cancer screenings are designed to detect and diagnose the disease in its earliest stages. Since breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in women, understanding the need for mammography is the first step to taking charge of your breast health.
Why should I get a mammogram?
Studies show that the five-year survival rate is nearly 97 percent for breast cancer found in its earliest stages. In addition to an annual breast exam by a clinician and a monthly self-exam, routine mammograms are recommended as being a key element to proper breast cancer screening. An x-ray test of the breasts, mammography allows for early detection of breast irregularities such as lumps, thickening, or suspicious tissues that may not otherwise be identified.
When should I start getting my annual mammogram?
The general consensus among medical professionals is that women should start to receive annual breast cancer screenings at the age of 40. Even if you do not show clear symptoms of breast cancer, annual mammograms should still be a part of your annual checkup. If you experience any abnormalities in your breast health, schedule an appointment with your doctor no matter your age or how much time has passed since your last exam.
How do I prepare for a mammogram?
Once you have set up your breast cancer screening, there are important steps you can take to ensure that your doctor has all of the information to make informed and precise decisions about your breast health. During your exam, be sure to inform your doctor if any of the following apply to you:
- If you are or may be pregnant – Mammograms should not be done routinely during pregnancy because emitted radiation could be harmful to your baby.
- If you are breast feeding – Breasts containing milk may produce unclear mammogram images.
- If you have breast implants – There is a special mammogram for women with breast implants.
- If you are on your period – Mammogram images may be more accurate 2 weeks after your menstrual cycle has completed.
- If you have noticed any changes or have had a breast biopsy before – Both parts of this information will help doctors to focus in on these areas of interest and better read the results.
Receive Immediate Mammogram Results from Finley Hospital
Unlike traditional film-based mammography, digital mammography uses computers and specially designed detectors to produce an image that can be displayed on a high-resolution computer monitor almost instantaneously. Used in conjunction with Computer-Aided Detection, your radiologist has the ability to zero-in on specific areas, make immediate decisions about the need for further screening and provide an accurate diagnosis in a timely manner.
UnityPoint Health – Finley Hospital is a leader in cancer care in Dubuque, Iowa. Offering immediate results after your mammography, we are dedicated to keeping your breast health a top priority for a healthy life ahead. Schedule your appointment today or register online if your physician has ordered a mammogram , and start living the full, cancer-free life you deserve.