6 Things You Need to Know about Mammograms

6 Things You Need to Know about Mammograms

A woman has a one-in-eight chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. Each year in the United States, 190,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and 40,000 of those women succumb to the disease. But if detected and treated early, breast cancer has a high survival rate.

Here are six important things to know about getting a mammogram:

  1. They Work - Since the implementation of screening mammography in the early 1990s, deaths from breast cancer have fallen by more than 30 percent. Researchers at Intermountain Healthcare have shown that women are more likely to survive breast cancer if tumors are found during mammography rather than during a clinical exam.
  2. Know Your Schedule - Intermountain Healthcare and many other experts from around the country recommend the following breast cancer screening guidelines:
    • Women age 20-39: Perform a breast self-exam monthly and a clinical breast exam every three years
    • Women age 40 and over: Perform a breast self-exam monthly, a clinical breast exam yearly, and have a annual mammogram
    • If you have a family history of breast cancer you should talk to your physician about beginning mammogram screenings earlier
  3. It's Fast and Safe - Those who have a mammography have a small amount of radiation exposure. As for the discomfort, mammography tests are about 20 minutes long and discomfort is minimal. Some women don’t feel it at all.
  4. Don't Jump to Conclusions - An unusual result that presents itself during a mammogram does not mean you have breast cancer. For every 1,000 women who have a mammogram only 100 are called for further testing and five are diagnosed with breast cancer.
  5. Prevention is Key - Mammograms can detect cancer early by showing changes in the breast up to two years before you can feel them. These early detections can prevent the need for extensive chemotherapy treatment.
  6. It's Not All About Genetics - 85 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease. Many women mistakenly believe that if they have no family history of breast cancer, they don’t need a mammogram and are not considered high-risk.