By: Dr. Victoria Myers
I’m not very well endowed in the bust so getting a mammogram always feels like I’m a contortionist in the circus. Picture me standing on my tippy toes, twisting every which way and then holding my breath all at the same time. So why do I go through this twenty-minute ordeal every year?
Why get a mammogram?
Mammograms are one of the best cancer screening tools available. 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime and early detection saves lives. Mammograms diagnose approximately 87% of breast cancers. The American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists recommends yearly testing starting at age 40 for women of average risk. Women at higher risk, such as those with strong family history, should discuss additional screening protocols with their physician.
Doesn’t it hurt?
Getting a mammogram can certainly be uncomfortable, but it doesn’t hurt. The radiology technicians will need to place your breasts in the machine and position them to get the necessary images. Although it may feel like your boobs are being stretched around the world, it doesn’t last long. Most breast imaging centers are very conscious of patient comfort and provide excellent care.
What about results?
Waiting for results can be stressful. Whether you find out minutes later or days later, the wait can feel like an eternity. Furthermore, many women are called back for additional mammogram images or for a breast ultrasound. This is not necessarily a sign that something is wrong. Sometimes, the breast tissue just needs to be stretched differently. Also, when women have denser breasts, an ultrasound may be indicated for more complete screening. As women’s health providers (and women who get mammograms!), we are very sensitive to the anxiety women feel when they need additional follow-up and try to communicate as quickly and clearly as possible.
Mammogram results can also be confusing. The Birads classification is a tool that radiologists use to categorize mammogram findings and describe the patient’s risk based on images and recommended follow-up plans. We are here to provide support and education to our patients and to explain those results in a timely manner. If you have any concerning findings on mammogram, we will also expedite referral to a breast surgeon.
Make an appointment today!
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many women have delayed or missed their mammograms this year. It is incredibly important for women to resume routine health screenings. I scheduled my mammogram during the pandemic and felt safe while following recommended COVID procedures. Clinical breast exams are also recommended and are vital for breast health. Make an appointment today for both your mammogram and for a breast exam with your gynecologist.