Everything You Need to Know About Mammograms

Many women are frightened of mammograms, as they don’t know what to expect. Others don’t know when you should get one or how often. As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re here to provide women with all the information that they need about mammograms and breast cancer in general.  Here are all your mammogram questions answered!

When Should I Get One?
Doctors recommend that women start getting mammograms around the age of 40.  If you have a family history of breast cancer or if you have had other breast problems in the past, you may need to start earlier.  Women from age 20 to 39 should perform a monthly breast self-exam.  Click here to learn how.

How Often Should I Get One?
Women over the age of 40 should get a mammogram once every one to two years.  Once again, if you have a history of breast cancer in your family or if you have additional breast conditions, you may need to get them more often.  

How Are They Performed?
A mammogram is obtained by using an x-ray. An x-ray technician will place one of your breasts between and x-ray and a plastic plate.  The plastic plate then compresses your breast to make it as flat as possible.  The purpose of flattening the breast is to spread out the breast tissue, which helps the machine take a better x-ray.  It will also make it easier to identify any irregularities.  The technician may take an additional photograph of the same breast from a different angle.  The technician will then x-ray your other breast.  After the mammogram is completed, your doctor will take a look at the x-rays and search for any abnormal growths or masses.  

What is Their Purpose?

The purpose of a screening mammogram is to identify any traces of breast cancer in your body.  It is important to get mammograms on a regular basis, as getting them regularly will increase your chances of catching breast cancer in its early stages, as opposed to a more advanced stage.  If you already show symptoms of breast cancer, a diagnostic mammogram will be performed to further examine the symptoms.  In this case, several x-rays may be taken of each breast.

If you want to learn more about how to reduce your risk of breast cancer, click here.

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