How many of you know that October 17th is designated as National Mammography Day? October is all about Breast Cancer Awareness and the importance of the mammograms is something that should not go unnoticed by women of all ages. Mammograms can detect changes in the breast up to two years before a physician or patient can feel them. Mammograms provide considerable help when it comes to breast conservation.
What exactly is mammography? It is the process of using low energy X-rays to examine the breast for abnormalities, and is a phenomenal diagnostic and screening tool. For those of us who have reservations about undergoing this procedure here’s something facts to think about. One in six breast cancers occur in women age 40-49, and mammograms have saved the lives of over 40% of these women by detecting cancer in its earliest and most treatable stages. Mammography has reduced breast cancer mortality by one-third in the United States since 1990.
The American Cancer Society recommends that women start getting yearly mammograms at the age of 40. Skipping a mammogram or even going every other year would miss up to 30% of cancers. Your life is too important to not do all you can to help prevent cancer or diagnosis it when it is in its earliest stages. Mammograms are quick, non-invasive and can save your life.
A typical mammogram takes about 30 minutes. The machine quickly and efficiently checks each breast by compressing them for about 30 seconds. A basic mammogram only requires four images – one of each breast compressed from side to side and from top to bottom. Many women are uncomfortable with the machine as it squeezes the breast to create the images, but the important thing to remember is that it only lasts a short amount of time.
Some tips for making your mammogram as comfortable as possible include:
- If you haven’t experienced menopause, schedule your mammogram the week after your menstrual cycle when the breasts are less tender
- Schedule your appointment as early as possible, and remember to you can’t wear deodorant, powder or lotion around the breast area to get an accurate a reading as possible
- Wear a two-piece outfit so you only have to remove your top
These tips will make your doctor visit a snap. If it is your first mammogram it is also important to remember that an unusual finding doesn’t necessarily mean a cancer diagnosis. Often times it is due to the fact that if it is a first time visit your doctor doesn’t have any mammograms to compare it to. Many times any abnormalities may be something as simple as a cyst, dense tissue or unclear image.
Mammograms help you to lead a fulfilling and happy life. The importance of visiting your doctor for a mammogram can’t be stressed enough. For a procedure that has its own day dedicated to it, it’s got to be pretty important. Make sure that you are doing all you can when it comes to being aware of the dangers of breast cancer and schedule your appointment as soon as you can. University Cancer Centers is offering mammograms to women over 40 for $125 for the entire month of October in honor of breast cancer awareness month!