5 Things You May Not Know About Mammograms

Healthy Living 31

woman getting a mammogramIt seems like this year's Breast Cancer Awareness Month has been one of the most successful by far. Everywhere you look, there's PINK and Jennifer Aniston's Ford Cares T-shirt or a bakery donating proceeds from one of their cupcakes to breast cancer research. It's fantastic that the message is being spread so far and wide, and hopefully this means the campaign is accomplishing what it set out to: Encouraging women to get screened frequently and early enough so as to prevent breast cancer.

Although we might feel well-versed on mammograms, here are five not so widely known facts to know and share ...

  1. Mammograms aren't the be all and end all in breast cancer screening. Breasts among young women are often denser, which can make mammograms less accurate. So for women 30 to 39, ultrasound can be a great adjunct screening method. Similarly, thermography -- both the computerized regulation (CRT) and thermal imaging types -- are safe and effective clinical procedures that are used extensively in Europe and can help identify inflammation of breast tissue and/or the existence of breast tumors. You can talk to your doctor about whether these screenings or MRI (the most accurate method, according to experts) may be helpful in addition or as alternatives to mammograms.
  2. Stats show skipping your mammogram -- or waiting until you're 50 years old to have your first one -- is a no-no. Out of all women's lives saved by mammography, 40 percent are women in their 40s. And for women 50+ years old, skipping a mammogram every other year would miss up to 30 percent of cancers.
  3. Mammograms can detect breast cancer well before you or your doctor. Research shows mammograms show changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or physician can feel them. Reminds us why Giuliana Rancic was wise to eventually go have a mammo before she turned 40! It's better to be safe than sorry, and it's better to detect early. Plus, just because you can't feel it doesn't mean the cancer's not there.
  4. The amount of radiation you receive from a mammogram really is no big deal. Some women are concerned about radiation from the screening year after year, and that's understandable, but the risk of harm from radiation exposure is extremely small, and the risk decreases significantly as a woman ages. The actual exposure of radiation during a mammo is about equivalent to that of having a dental exam.
  5. Your insurance could be open to covering annual mammos earlier than the age of 40, depending on your family history. This depends on what kind of insurance you have, but it is heartening to know that most insurance companies are beginning to recognize that women with first-degree relatives who have had breast cancer (mother or sister) need to be screened annually, beginning 10 years before the age their relative was diagnosed. The cost of a mammogram can vary from $75 to $600, and of course, your insurance coverage will depend on what type of mammography equipment is used and how many views need to be taken.

Did you know these facts about mammograms? What's something else you feel like women should know about the screening method?


Image via Army Medicine/Flickr

breasts, cancer, obgyn


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Kelli... KelliansMom

Yes I did know and I had my first screening this year at the age of 28. My insurence covers all preventive care the doc also did an u/s but that wasn't covered but still it was not a bad thing to get done. I know have a baseline picture of whaty healthy breast looks like so as I age and go back they can compare and find something quicker

LoriA... LoriAnn87

Yes I know about this facts and my insurance will be covering my baseline mammogram at 35.

Bee MacDonald

I just had my first Mammogram 40YR OLD and that was a week ago..My booby is still sore ..Like someone put a work out in pouching my little bags.

OMG! She had to get it perfect though.I'm a B Cup. She was pulling from the side of my chest and if that skin moved a millimeter (hair) she would have to do it again.

Fortunately it didn't take me much longer to figure out that i had to stay on this machine and not move no matter how dam uncomfortable it was.

Do i really have to keepo doing this. This alone will be the cause of saggy boobies for me.!..LOL : )

Kayla... KaylaMillar

i've never had one..i'm only 23.

1smar... 1smartcookie

I started getting them at age 35. My mom is a 9-year survivor.

Joi Cardinal

There are supposedly these new machines which don't do the vice grip thing, but I can't find one around in Eugene.  Anybody know of one?

MadMe... MadMerlotMama

I'm 26, and I've had 4 mammograms, 3 ultrasounds, and 2 biopsies. My Mama survived BC, my aunt died from the incredibly rare bilateral inflammatory BC. Insurance scoffed, but luckily I had a great oncologist who INSISTED.

They found a tumor in my left breast. Luckily, it's benign. But I still get twice yearly mammograms to make sure it fucking STAYS benign.

I'll be honest with you ladies, the mammo kinda hurt a bit. Nobody likes having their ta-tas squished to a pancake consistency. The biopsies hurt to the point where a nurse and my friend had to hold me down on the table. But I would do it all over again.

If Dr. Martinez hadn't found that tumor (which wasn't able to be felt), I would've never known. I might not have known until it was too late. I go in later this week for my checkup.



Kelli Davis

Not only are mammograms important, but so is doing your monthly breast self exam. I was only 30 years old when I found a lump and it did turn out to be cancer. When I had a mammogram after finding the lump, it did not show anything, but the ultrasound picked it up. Please know your body!

Koryn Hutchison

All women need to get their mammogram's radiologic transcribed REPORT. (Not just the letter they mail to you). You are relying on your referring doctor to READ your report and in 2007 my doctor missed the finding that there was a mass in my breast. a year later I was diagnosed with breast cancer and it had been given a year to grown and become an invasive cancer which required a complete mastectomy and full year of chemo therapy. Get your report! It is your own mendical record and you are entitled to it withough having spoken with your doctor. Then know the words to look for in a mammogram that would rasie any red flags to dicuss with your doctor. Doctors see literally hundreds of reports every day. Things get missed. Don't let it be yours. http://reduceyourrisk.blogspot.com

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