Going for a mammography screening? Here’s what to expect!

Getting screened for breast cancer can sound stressful. However, the earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the better are the chances of successful treatment. A mammogram is an X-ray of breasts done to detect breast cancer and other abnormalities. Combined with self-examinations every month, mammograms can help diagnose breast cancer in time. If you are a woman over 40, you should get screened for breast cancer, which is the second most common cancer (for women) after skin cancer in the US. Before you step into a mammography screening clinic in Meridian, here’s what you need to know. 

Understanding mammography screening

If your doctor suggests a mammogram as a routine exam of the breasts, you will go for a screening mammogram. Those who have a lump or evident signs that may point to breast cancer need to undergo a diagnostic mammogram. A diagnostic mammogram requires taking more X-rays of the breasts to understand and check the areas of concern. Regular screening for breast cancer should begin at age 45, although you can consider talking to your doctor by the age of 40. A standard 2D mammogram is often combined with a 3D mammogram to get a clearer picture of the breasts. 

Does it painful to get a mammogram done?

Since your breasts are compressed during a mammogram, you may feel some discomfort, but there is no pain. The experience also depends on your breast size and other factors. It takes about 20 minutes to get a mammogram, but the discomfort shouldn’t last for more than a few seconds. Before you go for a screening, do not use anything that can irritate the skin, including deodorants, powders, talc, and perfumes. If you are pregnant, your doctor may recommend other screen tests instead of a mammogram. 

How safe are mammograms?

With X-rays, your body gets exposed to a small amount of radiation, and there are minimal or extremely low risks. The same is true for mammograms. Mammography screening is usually not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women. In short, this is a safe screening & imaging test. 

Concluding thoughts

A mammogram is a safe and trusted way to detect breast cancer early. Of course, you may need additional tests and imaging if your doctor believes that you are at risk. The first screening may seem daunting, but there is rarely any pain. You will need to go for mammograms as suggested by your doctor, typically once every two to three years.

Evie Nasir

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