During the second half of the 20th century, the field of radiology has rapidly progressed in terms of efficiency and accessibility. Many of the procedures that have been researched, perfected, and put into practice have become some of medicine’s most accurate ways to prevent and treat disease.
One of the most notable preventative radiology procedures available is the mammogram. Mammography is one of the key players in the battle against breast cancer, and we’d like to use this opportunity to elaborate on the importance of a yearly mammogram.
What is a Mammogram
A mammogram is a form of low-dose x-ray, specifically designed to allow specialists to examine changes in breast tissue. Because mammography uses a much lower dose of radiation than normal x-rays, the breast tissue must be compressed and spread apart between two plates. This allows for an accurate image without the higher dose of radiation.
When a woman undergoes a mammogram out of pure precaution, without symptoms, problems, or elevated risk, it is referred to as a screening mammogram. If a mammogram is required due to concerning changes, problems, or lumps, it’s called a diagnostic mammogram.
Importance of a Regular or Yearly Mammogram
A yearly mammogram can provide life-saving insight into breast health. According to the Mayo Clinic, certain randomized trials have shown that screening mammograms have decreased breast cancer deaths by 30% in the United States. A mammogram can detect possible breast cancers far sooner than the discovery of noticeable lumps, which raises chances of treatment success.
Who Should Get a Mammogram, and When
A yearly mammogram will vary with each individual, but below are the official guidelines that we at Lubbock Diagnostic Radiology like to follow:
- Women at average risk of breast cancer should begin receiving yearly mammograms at age 40.
- BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation carriers: by age 30, but not before age 25.
- Women with mothers or sisters with premenopausal breast cancer: by age 30, but not before age 25 - or 10 years earlier than the age of diagnosis of relative, whichever is later.
- Women with a 20% or higher lifetime risk for breast cancer on the basis of family history (both maternal and paternal): yearly starting by age 30, but not before age 25 - or 10 years earlier than the age of diagnosis of the youngest affected relative, whichever is later.
- Women with histories of mantle radiation received between the ages of 10 and 30: beginning 8 years after the radiation therapy, but not before age 25.
- Women with biopsy-proven lobular neoplasia, ADH, DCIS, invasive breast cancer, or ovarian cancer regardless of age.
Education, Communication, Prevention
While certain institutions differ in their mammography recommendations, one thing is clear: mammography is an integral facet of breast health and cancer prevention. Learning your family’s medical history, and discussing your breast cancer risk and needs with your doctor should be a priority at your next checkup. By working together and openly with your doctor, you’ll be able to determine appropriate mammogram frequency.
High-Quality, Dependable Mammography at LDR
Whether you’re in for your first screening or another yearly mammogram, Lubbock Diagnostic Radiology is prepared to provide you with first-rate mammography. Here at LDR, we utilize full-field digital mammography, which provides physicians and specialists with the clarity they need to confidently make decisions about your health. If you have any questions regarding mammography and when you should begin your screening process, please give us a call and schedule an appointment today.