Benefits And Risks Of Mammograms
Maiden Lane Medical
Multi-Specialty Group Practice located in New York, NY
Mammograms are one of the most important health screening tests a woman can have. According to National Cancer Institute SEER data, since regular mammography use started in the 1980s, breast cancer deaths in women have fallen 43 percent.
Our team of women’s health experts at Maiden Lane Medical in Manhattan, NY includes radiology technicians and radiologists who provide and interpret mammograms, helping to protect women’s health. If you are due for your annual screening, call us today to schedule an appointment!
What Is a Mammogram?
A mammogram is an X-ray of breast tissue that helps physicians detect and diagnose breast cancer in its early stages. A mammogram image can reveal changes in breast tissue, including calcifications, masses, asymmetries, and distortions.
There are two main types of mammograms – screening and diagnostic. Screening mammograms generally take a standard amount of X-ray images of the breast at different angles. These are most commonly ordered as part of a routine breast screening in patients with average breast cancer risk and who are asymptomatic.
A diagnostic mammogram generally involves taking more X-ray images of the breast in additional views and is usually performed in patients with symptoms such as pain or notable mass.
Benefits of Mammograms
The primary benefit of mammograms is detection of breast malignancies, which if caught early, can save your life. Early detection of cancer can significantly reduce your fatality risk. Treatment may also be less invasive and disruptive when the disease is caught in its early stages.
A screening mammogram can detect abnormal breast tissue up to two years before it becomes cancerous. This allows your physician to address the issue before your health is at risk. Furthermore, when breast cancer is diagnosed early, you may have a lower chance of needing a more invasive surgery or procedure, enhancing your chances of breast conservation.
Risks of Mammograms
We firmly believe that the benefits of routine mammography screening outweigh any perceived risks. Some of the risks you might read about include over-diagnosis, over-treatment, and false positive results. Current mammogram technology uses extremely low-dose radiation, however, these minimal risks are outweighed by the benefits of this modality.
A screening mammogram exposes a patient to a similar amount of radiation they would be exposed to from living their regular life over the course of 7 weeks.
Are There Limitations to Mammograms?
Mammograms do have some limitations. While mammograms are an excellent screening modality, they may occasionally need to be supplemented in order to have a complete evaluation of the breast.
However, if your doctor sees something suspicious, they can order an additional diagnostic mammogram or a biopsy to learn more about the abnormality. Additionally, when you have routine annual screening mammograms, your doctor can compare the year-on-year images and identify any changes.
Breast cancer screening may not be beneficial for everyone. For example, women with serious or life-threatening health conditions like heart, kidney, liver, or lung disease or a shortened life expectancy may not live longer or have a healthier life because of screening for breast cancer. You should talk to your doctor about your overall health and other risk factors to determine if you should have screening mammography.
Why Are Mammograms So Important?
Screening mammography is the best and most effective way to identify early-stage breast cancer. Studies show that an annual screening mammogram can save your life. As mentioned above, the National Cancer Institute has published data showing a 43% decrease in breast cancer-related deaths since the test was introduced in the 1980s.
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Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations
Below are some recommendations to keep in mind regarding your breast cancer screening.
- Most women should begin to have annual screening mammograms when they turn 40. Talk to your doctor about your risk factors for personalized recommendations on when to start having mammograms and frequency.
- Avoid having a mammogram the week before your period, as your breasts may be tender or swollen, making the test less comfortable.
- Don’t wear deodorant, lotion, perfume, or powder when you have a mammogram. These substances can interfere with image accuracy.
- You may prefer to wear a shirt with pants or a skirt so you can only disrobe the top part of your body.
How Should I Schedule a Mammogram?
Schedule an appointment with your women’s health provider at Maiden Lane Medical and talk about your risk of breast cancer. Your doctor can provide advice and a referral. Then call our practice in Manhattan, NY, or use the online appointment scheduling tool to make your mammogram appointment.
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