Busting the Most Common Mammogram Myths

A mammogram is the most effective tool for detecting breast cancer. Unfortunately, many mammogram myths persist that keep women from getting screened when they should—or even getting screened at all. By knowing the truth, you can feel empowered to get the care you need.

Myth 1: Mammograms Are Painful

It’s true that mammograms are uncomfortable, but not everyone considers them painful and there’s a lot you can do to reduce potential discomfort.

During a mammogram, your breast is placed on a plastic plate while another plastic plate slowly presses down on the breast. This action flattens your breast while holding it in place for imaging. Once you’re in the correct position, you’ll be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds to minimize movement as images are taken. The goal is to get accurate images from different angles so the radiologist can detect any signs of breast cancer.

You can reduce the potential discomfort or pain that some people feel by:

  • Working with your technologist to find different positions for your breasts during imaging
  • Scheduling your annual mammogram appointment within a week or two after your period starts when your breasts are less tender
  • Taking pain relievers before you arrive at the imaging center
  • Finding anxiety-relieving techniques that work for you

Myth 2: You Don’t Need a Mammogram Unless You Have a Family History of Breast Cancer

While women with a family history of breast cancer have an increased risk of developing breast cancer, the need for a mammogram isn’t limited to just them. Annual screening mammograms for all women at average risk should begin as early as age 40. Starting at age 55, women can switch to breast cancer screenings every two years. It’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor about your specific health and health history needs. They can recommend the right number and frequency of screenings for you.

Myth 3: You’ll Be Able to Detect Breast Cancer on Your Own

Being familiar with the way your breasts look and feel is an essential part of taking care of your health. However, breast cancer does not always cause a lump or a lump that you can feel on your own. During breast cancer’s early stages, imaging can help detect cancer that you and your doctor can’t. Mammograms can even detect breast cancer up to three years before a lump can be felt.

Breast density can affect lump detection. Women with dense breast tissue are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer, and they often require additional imaging options. Your breast density is not something you or your doctor can determine with a physical exam.

Ready for a mammogram? Schedule one today at River’s Edge Hospital & Clinic.

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