Mammograms are x-ray pictures of the breasts that are used to screen for breast cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, research shows that screening mammograms can help in reducing breast cancer deaths in women age 40 to 74. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so what better time to explore the benefits of mammograms and schedule one for yourself!
How Does It Work?
A mammogram procedure is done with a special x-ray machine that will scan your breasts one at a time. A radiology technician will place your breasts between an x-ray and plastic plate one at a time. This allows the breast tissue to be spread out for a clear picture. There will be pressure on your breast but will only last for a few seconds. Your breasts will be scanned from the top and sides. A mammogram only takes about 20 minutes to complete.
When Should I Get One?
According to WomensHealth.Gov, women should begin getting mammograms at age 40 and should get one every one to two years. If you have already had breast cancer or have a family history of breast cancer, you may want to talk to a doctor about getting mammograms earlier than age 40.
Are There Different Types?
Mammograms are done as both screening and diagnostic procedures. A screening is an initial check to see if you have any signs of breast cancer. A diagnostic mammogram can be done if a patient shows signs of breast cancer, such as a lump or other changes to the breasts. A diagnostic mammogram is a longer process involving more detailed pictures.
What Should I know Before I go?
There are a few things you should know before getting your mammogram:
· Don’t schedule it around the time of your period, as breasts may be tender or swollen during this time, making the mammogram uncomfortable.
· If you have breast implants, mention them when scheduling your procedure.
· Wear a skirt or pants so you only need to undress from the waist up.
· Avoid applying lotion, deodorant, perfume or other products under your arms or on your chest—they may cause shadowing on the mammogram.
· If your previous mammograms were taken somewhere else, have the results sent to the new facility.
Here at Medical Center of McKinney, our Women’s Imaging Center offers the most advanced technology, including digital mammography. Patients who schedule a mammogram with us this October will receive a free umbrella as our gift to you, while supplies last. To schedule an appointment, please call us at 972-758-6200.