Mammograms are important screening tests for detecting breast cancer
Mammograms are a vital tool in the fight for early detection of breast cancer. These low-dose x-rays allow physicians to see breast tissue and detect changes in the breast that cannot be felt during a clinical breast exam or noticed when practicing breast self-awareness.
Our Round Rock obgyns will discuss your risk factors and family history to help you determine when you should begin annual screening with mammograms.
Screening mammograms are performed to detect breast cancer
Women with an average risk factor for breast cancer should start having annual mammograms at age 40. If you have certain risk factors, our physicians may recommend a different schedule. All patients have their own histories and needs, and we will work together to determine what is best for you.
Screening mammograms, including digital and breast tomosynthesis, are the tests that most women think of when they hear the word mammograms. For this test, you stand in front of the x-ray machine and the radiologic technician places your breast between two plates attached to the machine. During this type of screening, the plates compress the breast tissue in order to flatten and spread it out, allowing the radiologist a clearer view of the tissue.
If your mammogram is normal, you will simply return yearly or at the recommended time for another test. If the test results are abnormal, meaning that something is concerning the radiologist, you will need to have additional tests, often including diagnostic mammograms. Remember, abnormal mammograms do not mean that you have breast cancer; this just means more definitive tests are needed.
Diagnostic mammograms are used for clarification
When breast cancer signs or symptoms are detected using screening mammograms or other means, diagnostic mammograms are performed to provide more information about whether or not breast cancer is present.
Diagnostic mammograms involve more detailed x-rays and provide more views of the breast tissue where the suspicious area or abnormality was found. These tests take longer than screening mammograms, but they are performed in the same way.
Tips to follow up
Our Round Rock obgyns understand that many women do not look forward to mammograms, but they are too important to miss, even if they are a bit uncomfortable for some people. As you prepare for your exam, keep the following in mind:
- Try to schedule mammograms after your period, avoiding the week before and during menstruation when your breasts may be tender.
- Avoid having to have mammograms redone by omitting deodorant, powder or perfume from your morning routine the day of the test. If you wear these products, they can cause spots on your x-ray that make the test difficult to read.
- Don’t wear a dress the day of the test because you need to undress from the waist up and wear a gown.
Our Round Rock obgyns believe that mammograms are essential for early breast cancer detection for women age 40 and over and women of other ages with higher risk factors. We urge women not to neglect this important part of their health care. Contact us to make an appointment.