October is recognized nationally as “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.” This campaign is designed to raise awareness of breast cancer, and to educate the public about the disease as much as possible. Widespread awareness campaigns like this are extremely important in the raising of funds for cancer research, and can save lives, simply through the spread of information.
Lubbock Diagnostic Radiology would like to join in this effort by highlighting one the many valuable services we offer: Mammograms.
What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is a form of breast imaging that uses low-dose x-rays to screen for cancer and other changes or anomalies in the breast. If any changes are detected, a diagnostic mammogram can be ordered, which will focus more specifically on the areas of concern, giving a more detailed view. Mammograms are capable of detecting breast cancer at very early stages, making it more easily treatable than types found later on.
How important is a mammogram?
The science of mammography has contributed to incredible strides in the treatment of breast cancer. In fact, according to MammographySavesLives.com, a mammogram can detect breast changes up to two years before they can be felt by a patient or doctor. This early discovery can make the treatment and recovery process much shorter, avoiding the extensive treatment that is used in the cases of more advanced cancers.
Women are encouraged to begin getting an annual mammogram at age 40. This is recommended even if the patient has no previous symptoms or family history that would suggest that they are at risk. While the idea of a yearly mammogram might sound intimidating, it is necessary. Since 1990, mammograms in the U.S. have reduced the number of breast cancer deaths by 40%.
What to Expect
If you’ve had any sort of mammography or breast treatment done at a different facility than the one you are visiting for your current procedure, be sure to send any records or previous images to your current radiology facility. This will give the technician a better look into your medical history, making it easier to compare imaging.
Be prepared to undress to your waist at your appointment; pants or a skirt (as opposed to a dress or any kind of full-body outfit) will make it so you don’t have to fully undress.
In order to get the highest-quality image possible, your breasts will need to be flattened between two plastic plates, allowing detailed images to be taken while keeping the amounts of radiation at a low dose. According to the American Cancer Society, while this part of the procedure might be uncomfortable, the actual compression will only last a few seconds. The entire procedure should take around 20 minutes. With all of this information in mind, any severe pain should be reported to your technician.
Your mammography facility is required to send out an easy-to-understand report of your mammogram within 30 days, but the ACS recommends calling the facility if you haven’t gotten your results after ten days.
Mammograms Save Lives
With statistics like a decreased breast cancer mortality rate of 40%, it’s hard to ignore the evidence. If you are 40 years old, or have a high risk of breast cancer, it’s essential to schedule your yearly mammogram. The friendly staff here at Lubbock Diagnostic Radiology is happy to answer any questions you might have about this topic, so please feel free to give us a call.