Mammograms are one of the most important factors when it comes to staying on top of breast health. There are also many misconceptions that cause women to delay scheduling this extremely important appointment. Some of these myths are presented with the facts below to help put your mind at ease about mammograms.
Myth: A mammogram takes too long. I have no time.
Fact: Exams usually take less time with digital mammography, and you are typically in and out for a screening mammogram in less than 30 minutes.
Myth: Mammograms cost too much.
Fact: Many insurance companies cover the cost of a screening mammogram if you meet the criteria. Also, low-cost or fully funded mammograms are offered through national programs and community organizations.
Myth: Mammograms are painful.
Fact: Mammograms may be uncomfortable, but they should not be painful. With the transition to digital mammography you should experience much less discomfort because of the new design of the compression paddles. The paddles flex with your body, applying pressure only where needed. In addition, digital exams are quicker and the compression time is less. Compression is important during the screening because it spreads the breast tissue more evenly for better visualization of the anatomy and potential abnormalities, it lowers the radiation dose since a thinner amount of breast tissue is imaged, and it immobilizes the breast to prevent blurring of the images caused by motion.
Myth: I am afraid of finding something.
Fact: Eight out of 10 breast lumps are not cancerous. However, see a physician immediately if you discover a lump or change in your breasts. Computer-aided detection helps specially trained radiologists to be certain of their findings, make recommendations for further studies, and talk with referring physicians. If cancer is detected, breast care clinicians will provide you with a continual source of support throughout the entire process.
Myth: The radiation from a mammogram can cause cancer.
Fact: Mammograms are very safe. Digital mammography uses the lowest radiation dose required to produce clear and precise exam images.
Myth: Mammograms are for older women only.
Fact: The American College of Radiology recommends that women age 40 and older should get a yearly screening mammogram for as long as they are in good health. However, if you have a family history of cancer, any new breast problem or other high-risk factors, it may be recommended to start screening at an earlier age.
When it is time for your mammogram, there are things you can do before you go and during the screening to minimize discomfort. Schedule your mammogram 10 to 14 days after the start of your menstrual cycle, as breasts are usually less tender during this timeframe. Avoid caffeine, which can make the breasts tender, a week before your mammogram.
Now that you’re prepared, you can schedule your next mammogram worry-free.