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Myths and Facts about Mammography

Myth: I don't need a mammogram if I don't have any symptoms or problems.
Fact: Mammograms can detect breast cancers when they are very small and long before they cause symptoms or problems.

Myth: I've had a normal mammogram so I don't need another.
Fact: Once is not enough. Every woman age 40 or older should have an annual mammogram. Depending on how rapidly a tumor grows, mammography can detect it as much as two years before a manual exam can.

Myth: Having a mammogram is very painful.
Fact: You won't feel anything when the actual mammogram X-ray is taken. However, in order to get a sharper image of your breast, your breast tissue must be flattened againsta special device. A few women find the flattening uncomfortable, while others have no complaints.

Myth: If a mammogram does detect a problem, it's too late to do anything about it.
Fact: Mammograms can detect most breast cancers very early, giving you more treatment options and greater chances of survival. Mammograms could save your life!

Myth: I don't need a mammogram unless my healthcare professional says I do.
Fact: Although most healthcare professionals remember to refer women for mammograms, you shouldn't wait for one to suggest it.


Most Breast Lumps are NOT Cancerous

Most lumps are benign; not cancerous. The most common breast lump is dense breast tissue called fibrocystic tissue. The fibrous tissue of the breast increases causing lumpiness.Breast Self Exam Pic This is seen most commonly in women under age 50 and is thought to be related to estrogen production. Cysts are also common causes of lumpiness and are fluid filled sacs which can come and go but never turn into cancer. Fibroadenomas are fibrous tissue that form benign noncancerous tumors in that breast. They are frequently mobile when touched and occur most commonly in ages 18 to 35.

Early Detection Saves Lives

The American Cancer Society recommends the following schedule for women at average risk:
Age 40 and over
Mammogram and clinical breast exam (CBE) yearly and breast self-exam (BSE) monthly
Age 20s and 30s
Clinical Breast Exam (CBE) about every 3 years and breast self-exam (BSE) monthly. Obtain a baseline mammogram between 35 to 40, if there is no family history of breast cancer.


Tips for a Better Mammogram

On the day of your mammogram, do not use any body glitter. This can cause artifacts on your images.

Schedule your mammogram one week after your period ends to limit tenderness with compression.

Please call ahead to obtain a film release from outside facilities for comparison of your mammogram.

Tell the technologist of any changes in your breast since your last exam.

Consider wearing pants in lieu of a dress on the day of your mammogram for your personal comfort. Inform the technologist if you may be pregnant.