About 12% of women will have breast cancer at some point during their lives. The disease causes over 40,000 deaths every single year. Thankfully, when diagnosed and treated early, survival rates are high. That's why mammograms are so important. They're one of the best ways to diagnose breast cancer in its early stages.
A mammogram is a particular type of X-ray that reveals abnormal tissue in your breasts. Mammograms can show abnormal tissue up to three years before you even feel a lump. Going to your doctor for regular mammograms can put you ahead of any potential diagnosis.
During your mammogram, you change into a hospital gown that opens at the front. You can leave your pants and shoes on. While you stand in front of the mammogram equipment, a technician positions your breast onto a transparent plate. Then, the technician lowers another plate onto your breast to flatten and hold it still while the X-ray is taken. The X-ray only takes a few seconds.
The steps are then repeated with vertical plates, instead of horizontal plates, for a side view. Once completed, your doctor will X-ray the other breast. While a mammogram isn’t comfortable, it’s quick, and could save your life.
Remember, your breasts may be more sensitive around your period or when you ovulate. Make sure to schedule your mammogram appointment at the least sensitive time of your cycle.
Most women schedule their first mammogram when they turn 40 or 50, but it's dependent on your background. The best way to determine when you should start is by talking to the providers at Grassroots Healthcare about your personal and family health history. They offer advice based on your specific needs. For example, if you have a family history of breast cancer, you may need to start having mammograms earlier.
Most women have mammograms annually, or every other year until they turn 74. Grassroots provides referrals for mammograms as frequently as believed necessary based on your health history.
Mammograms reveal tissue abnormality, but don’t show whether or not the tissue is cancerous. If your mammogram is positive, the providers at Grassroots Healthcare will provide a referral for a biopsy. A biopsy is a minimally invasive procedure that extracts a sample of cells, which are tested to identify the condition causing the abnormality.
If your biopsy confirms you have breast cancer, you and your team at Grassroots will work with an oncologist to create and put in place a treatment plan to destroy or remove the tumor.
Taking care of your overall health can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer, as well as other types of the disease. Here are a few things you can do right now:
You should also make sure to check your breasts at home at least once a month. Usually, the best time to complete a self-check is after your period. At Grassroots, we can teach you the correct technique to check your breasts.
If you’re due for your well-woman exam, Pap smear, or another consultation, contact us today. Dr. Tate and her team will answer any questions you might have with personalized advice.