What You Should Know about Mammograms

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Mammograms are a valuable tool in identifying and treating breast cancer. Unfortunately, there has been some confusion in the media in recent months about the recommended frequency and necessity of mammograms. Here is what you should know about mammograms.

What Is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is basically an x-ray of the breast. It can detect tumors that you were unable to feel as well as calcium deposits that could indicate the presence of breast cancer. Screening mammograms take less time than a diagnostic screening because a diagnostic screening requires more views from many angles.

Who Needs Mammograms?

The basic rule of thumb regarding mammograms is that women over the age of 40 should have a regular mammogram. Some younger women with a family history of breast cancer may receive regular mammograms according to the doctor's recommendations.

How Often Should I Have a Mammogram?

In addition to regular self-examinations (monthly) and a yearly breast exam by your doctor, women over 40 should have a mammogram once a year. The process is pain-free and exposes you to very little radiation.

How Accurate Are Mammograms?

One of the debates surrounding mammograms is their accuracy. While it's true that there are instances of false positives, which can cause unnecessary anxiety and further testing, most women feel it's better to be safe than sorry. Instances of false negative results occur as well, but mammograms are able to detect the majority of tumors.

 

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