According to the American Cancer Society, women should receive their first mammogram at age 40 and continue getting them every year. This is the best way to detect breast cancer early on, which provides a higher survival rate. Some women are more at risk for breast cancer than others due to both hereditary and environmental factors. By getting annual exams and using other prevention methods, you can increase your chances of finding the cancer sooner. If you've never gotten a mammogram before, you may have no idea what to expect. Here are some things you should know before you go.
Before you turn 40, you should already be examining yourself for signs of breast cancer. About 40% of breast cancer cases are detected by feeling a lump in the breast. It is important to do the self exam at least once a month. Typically, women perform the exam while in the shower. This can be done by using a circular motion and feeling for any knots or lumps in either breast or armpit. If you do feel one, you should contact a medical professional immediately. This does not always mean you have breast cancer, as it could be a sign of other issues like non-cancerous cysts.
Whether you have felt a lump or you just turned 40, it is now to have a mammogram performed. When you go to have a mammogram done, your healthcare professional will go over the steps with you. The mammography machine uses x-rays to detect any abnormal growths in your breast or armpits. As you continue to go back for the mammogram annually, your healthcare provider is able to compare the results of your mammogram each year to determine if there are any changes occurring. As the machine presses on your breast, it can become a little uncomfortable.
After the Procedure
Once you have had the mammogram performed, your next step is to wait. Often, your medical professional may see some abnormalities within the results. This does not mean you have breast cancer as it could be a number of things causing the results. If breast cancer is found early on, the survival rate is over 90%. This is why experts urge women who have a history of breast cancer in their family or are overweight to come in for a mammogram at least every year. It could mean the difference between life or death. If you do have breast cancer, your healthcare professional will go over the different types of treatments that may include chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation. Every path of treatment is different depending on the severity of the cancer. Talk to a professional like Radiology Affiliates Imaging for more information.