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Importance of Breast Cancer Screening

Reviewed by Dr. Manisha Patel, board-certified in Obstetrics & Gynecology

 

Did you know that Breast Cancer is one of the most common cancers in women?  Breast cancer starts in the breast when cells begin to grow out of control. These cancer cells can cause tumors which can be felt as lumps in the breast. While breast cancer occurs in women as they get older, if you are predisposed or have a family history, you may be at a greater risk for developing breast cancer.

Along with regular breast self-exams, a routine mammogram is the most effective way to detect breast cancer and start treatment early.

 

What is a mammogram?

Mammograms are completed using a special x-ray machine to get an x-ray image of the breast. The entire process takes about 20 minutes.


When should you get a mammogram?

A common question asked by patients is when they should start getting mammograms. There is no perfect age to start screening for breast cancer. It’s important for you to talk with your provider about your risks, preferences, and the overall benefit/risk of breast cancer screening. Here are some general tips on when to begin thinking about getting a mammogram.

  • Most women start getting mammograms at the age of 40 and have the screening completed every one to two years.
  • Women who have a high risk of developing breast cancer or have a family history of breast cancer could benefit by having a mammogram before the age of 40.


Discuss any recent changes or problems in your breasts with your health care provider before getting the mammogram.


How to prepare for your mammogram?

To get the most accurate results from your mammogram, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Go to the same facility every time so that your mammograms can easily be compared from year to year or if using a new facility take your old records with you.
  • Try not to schedule your mammogram the week before you get your period or during your period.
  • The day of your mammogram make sure not to wear deodorant, perfume or powder. Those types of products can show up as white spots on the x-ray.


Other Options:

While mammograms are the most common procedure used in breast cancer screening there are a few other methods used with mammograms.

  • Breast Ultrasound
  • Clinical breast exam and breast self-exam
  • Digital Breast Tomosynthesis
  • Breast MRI

At Galen OB/GYN, we encourage our patients to get mammograms every two years.

Talk to your provider today to get scheduled!