Everything You Need To Know About Your Mammogram
Mammograms can be stressful and even a bit scary. But you can prepare yourself with critical information before you get a mammogram. The free resource, Mammogram 101, answers what you should do before, during, and after your mammogram screening.
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What Is A Mammogram?
A mammogram is an x-ray that allows a qualified specialist to examine the breast tissue for any suspicious areas. The breast is exposed to a small dose of ionizing radiation that produces an image of the breast tissue.
Why Do I Need A Mammogram?
Mammograms can often show a breast lump before it can be felt. They also can show tiny clusters of calcium called micro-calcifications. Lumps or specks can be caused by cancer, fatty cells, or other conditions like cysts. Further tests are needed to find out if abnormal cells are present.
Recommendations for all women:
- Women 40 and older should have mammograms every 1 or 2 years.
- Women who are younger than 40 and have risk factors for breast cancer should ask their healthcare professional whether mammograms are advisable and how often to have them.
Even women who have no symptoms and no known risks for breast cancer should have regularly scheduled mammograms to help detect potential breast cancer at the earliest possible time.
What Happens If My Mammogram Results Are Abnormal?
If the mammogram shows an abnormal area of the breast, your doctor will order additional tests offering clearer, more detailed images of that area.
Although lumps are usually non-cancerous, the only way to be certain is to perform additional tests, such as an ultrasound or MRI. If further tests show that the mass is solid, your radiologist may recommend a biopsy, a procedure in which cells are removed from a suspicious area to check for the presence of cancer.
Abnormal mammogram result? Be informed and ask the right questions.
If your mammogram screening was abnormal, don’t panic. The free resource, Abnormal Mammograms and What to Do Next, details the different kinds of tests you may need and includes a list of specific questions to ask your doctor at your next appointment. Be prepared to understand your results and empowered with critical information about your next steps.
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Materials on this page courtesy of National Cancer Institute