Why Mammography is Important
Mammography can identify abnormalities in the breast that are far too small to be felt during self-exams. Currently, it is the best way to detect cancer when no symptoms exist. Early detection of small cancers and prompt treatment result in the highest possible cure rates.
According to the American Cancer Society
- Every woman should have her first mammogram at age 40
- Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health.
- Clinical breast exam should be part of a periodic health exam, about every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over.
- Women should know how their breasts normally feel and report any breast change promptly to their health care providers. Breast self-exam is an option for women starting in their 20s.
- Women at high risk (greater than 20% lifetime risk) should get an MRI and a mammogram every year. Women at moderately increased risk (15% to 20% lifetime risk) should talk with their doctors about the benefits and limitations of adding MRI screening to their yearly mammogram. Yearly MRI screening is not recommended for women whose lifetime risk of breast cancer is less than 15%.
Mammography uses safe, low-dose X-rays to produce an image of the inside of the breast. Recent technological improvements have greatly minimized the amount of radiation required to produce high-quality mammograms.
The Mammography Exam
To ensure the best possible results, your breasts may be physically examined before the X-rays. A smooth plastic paddle is used to compress your breast. You will be asked to remain still for a few seconds while two or three X-rays are taken of each breast from the side and from above. The exam will last about 20-to-25 minutes.
Please bring any previous films with you to your appointment or let us know where they were done and we can request them for you.