Mammograms are one of the many services we can help you find at Complete Women’s Healthcare. It’s also one of the most important things any woman can do to improve her chances of a long, healthy life.
A mammogram is an x-ray image that’s taken of the breast. It’s the most effective method we use to check for signs of breast cancer.
During the procedure, the patient stands in front of an x-ray machine while a tech places their breast on a clear plate. Another plate presses down from above. This flattens the breast and holds it still while the machine captures the image. The steps are repeated to get side views as well.
Once the x-ray tech confirms that the images are good and don’t need to be re-taken, you are all finished. Your images will be reviewed by a radiologist, and a report will be given to your doctor.
Even if you are not experiencing any physical changes, you should get checked yearly from age 40 onward. If you have a family history of breast cancer, then you should begin screening 10 years prior to the age that your relative was diagnosed.
Why should you schedule a mammogram?
• You Can’t Always Feel Lumps
Lumps can be present and not noticeable, even if you perform self-exams regularly. They may start small or be in an area that’s hard to reach. The mammogram provides a much clearer picture of what’s happening inside your body.
Today, medical care providers have access to digital mammograms that may be a better option for women under age 50 or those with dense breasts. These record the image in a computer and can be easily enlarged to let doctors look closer at specific sections.
• Mammograms Can Catch Cancer Early
Mammograms can reveal a lump as much as two years before you can feel it. That’s a lot of time to identify the problem and deal with it before it becomes something potentially life-threatening. Early detection is essential when treating any type of cancer.
In most cases, the sooner you catch it, the easier it will be to treat. That doesn’t guarantee a positive outcome, but it significantly increases your chances of one.
• It’s a Quick Appointment
A mammogram appointment doesn’t require much time at all. The procedure usually takes no more than 20 minutes from start to finish. That’s just 20 minutes out of your day once per year to make sure you don’t have cancer.
• People Love and Care About You
You have friends and family who love and care about you. They want you to live the happiest, healthiest life possible. The best way to do that is through regular screenings and prevention.
Finding out that someone you love has cancer is one of the hardest moments in a person’s life. Give yourself the best chance at a positive outcome, so you can continue to enjoy as much time as possible with those you care about, and who care about you.
• Set a Good Example for Others
You may not know it, but there is a good chance that another woman is influenced by you. It may be a niece, sister, daughter, aunt, neighbor, or friend. By going for regular mammograms, you are encouraging others to take care of their health.
Even if you don’t start conversations about regular screenings, those close to you will likely be aware that you’re going. This sends a positive message and will remind them to take care of their bodies as well.
• Mammograms Are Safe
Just like any x-ray, a mammogram exposes you to a small amount of radiation. However, this is well within medical guidelines and is safe.
There are myths spread that claim mammograms are dangerous because of radiation exposure. As long as you trust a certified professional to handle the procedure, you are in good hands.
To put it into perspective, we are exposed to constant background radiation daily. The dose from one mammogram is about the same as two months’ worth of background radiation exposure for an average woman.
• The Discomfort is Brief
Yes, there will be some discomfort. Unfortunately, there is no way around that based on how the breast must be held in place to capture a clear image. The good news is that it’s very brief.
Trusting a skilled professional will help reduce the amount of discomfort felt. They know how to handle the equipment to make the process as easy for you as possible. If you experience pain, let your technician know to see if they can make adjustments to alleviate discomfort.
• Health Insurance Usually Covers It
Most health insurance providers offer benefits for mammograms. Copays and other fees may vary, but this procedure is usually covered.
Always contact your health insurance provider to ask about coverage and any amounts that are your responsibility. Make sure you ask about the specific type of mammogram being done in case there is any difference in coverage for 2D versus 3D, or any other procedures that you plan to have done during your appointment.
• Mammograms Save Lives
One of the biggest reasons to have regular mammograms is that they save lives. Early detection isn’t just about making it easier to treat cancer. It may be the difference between surviving or losing your life to the disease.
According to the American College of Radiology, mammography has reduced the breast cancer mortality rate in the United States by almost 40% since 1990.
Three out of four women who are diagnosed with breast cancer were not considered high risk and had no family history of the disease. That’s why it’s so important to schedule your mammogram, even if you don’t think you’re likely to develop cancer.
• It’s a Relief to Know You’re OK
As we grow older, our risk of cancer increases. It’s a condition that doesn’t discriminate. It isn’t limited to women with specific risk factors. Anyone can get cancer.
Having mammograms done will let you know what’s going on inside your body. You can rest easy knowing that nothing is hiding, waiting to surprise you later. That peace of mind is well worth the 20 minutes the procedure takes.
Complete Women’s Healthcare is available to help you stay healthy. We are happy to answer questions about screenings like mammograms or to guide you to the right place to get one. Visit our website and book an appointment to talk to a doctor about your cancer risk and long-term health.