Understanding Mammograms and the Importance of Annual Screenings
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Fort Loudoun Medical Center is honoring all those whose lives have been affected by this disease.
Many women have questions about mammograms and may put off scheduling one for a variety of reasons. This annual exam could be what saves your life. According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. Screening mammography is the only method proven to reduce deaths due to breast cancer by detecting breast cancer early.
What is a Mammogram?
A mammogram is an X-ray image of your breast used to find and diagnose breast disease. A mammogram may be done if you have breast problems such as a lump, pain, or nipple discharge. A mammogram is also done as a screening test if you don’t have breast problems. It can check for breast cancers, noncancerous or benign tumors, and cysts before they can be felt.
A mammogram can’t prove that an abnormal area is cancerous. However, if a mammogram shows an area in your breast that is irregular or may be cancer, you may need a breast ultrasound exam. Or your healthcare provider may remove a sample of breast tissue (biopsy). Your provider may remove the tissue by needle or during surgery. The tissue will be checked under a microscope to see if it is cancer. A mammogram uses a low dose of radiation.
Who Should Get a Screening Mammogram?
The American College of Radiology and American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend annual screening mammograms for women 40 years of age and older. Additionally, women should perform self-breast exams monthly and take notice of changes in the breast.
Fort Loudoun Medical Center Women’s Services
Fort Loudoun Medical Center offers a full range of breast imaging services, which includes state of the art 3D tomosynthesis, breast ultrasound, breast biopsy, and even breast surgery if needed. Tomosynthesis provides the same clinical applications as traditional mammography for any type of breast, but with more defined images. 3D mammography is beneficial for women with dense breast tissue, because it allows the radiologist to see in and between breast tissues, including dense breast tissue. This technology may help to detect smaller cancers, earlier, because it can detect small cancers that may have otherwise been hidden.
Looking at the reasons why women avoid mammography, Fort Loudoun Medical Center mammography physicians and staff aim to refocus attention from the perceived anxiety and discomfort of the exam. Mammograms are performed in a calm environment to help relax patients so obtaining the best image is possible, and keeps patients comfortable and leave with an excellent overall patient experience. By helping make sure patients have a pleasant experience, Roane aims to encourage women to continue getting their annual mammograms.
If you’re age 40 or older and haven’t had your first screening mammogram, don’t wait another day to schedule. Breast cancer is easiest to treat when detected in its early stages. By taking time to be proactive about your health, you won’t just be helping yourself— you’ll be helping the people who love and depend on you, too.
Talk with your doctor to find out which screening guidelines are right for you. If you are at higher risk for breast cancer, talk with your provider about your options for starting screening mammograms earlier, having additional tests such as a breast ultrasound or MRI, or having mammograms more often.
Contact Fort Loudoun Medical Center at 865-374-4000 or visit FortLoudoun.com.