Mammograms in the New Year

In the war against breast cancer, a disease with which over 200,000 women in the U.S. alone will be diagnosed this year, the mammogram continues to be one of the leading diagnostic tools available to us. Screening for breast cancer allows for early diagnosis and earlier treatment which ultimately helps to save lives. If you haven’t already scheduled your yearly mammogram, now is the time to put that on the calendar. With mammogram, however, comes many misconceptions held by women with regard to its effectiveness as well as what the results they can yield.

Effectiveness

Mammograms are essentially x-rays of the breasts used for regular screenings in women who have no signs of any disease or used to examine any lumps or abnormalities that develop in the breasts. While there is risk for false positives – mammograms can pick up a variety of abnormalities in the breast that may mimic evidence of breast cancer – it allows doctors to make more informed decisions about any further testing that may need to be done. Mammogram is still considered a highly effective diagnostic tool and may be combined with other methods of screening – such as ultrasound – if a woman has dense breast tissue in which cysts, calcium deposits, tumors, etc. are difficult to detect.

Self-Examination & Clinical Exams

Mammograms are still only one part of effective early detection of breast cancer. It’s still just as important to see your gynecologist for a yearly clinical exam, as well as perform a self-examination on a monthly basis. In fact, more breast lumps are initially found by self-examination than any other method. No one knows the terrain of your body better than you do so it’s important for women to commit to monthly self-exams of their breasts so that they can quickly report any changes to their doctor.

An ongoing commitment to breast health includes a commitment to regular screenings – that includes a doctor’s appointment, self-examinations, mammogram, and breast ultrasound when recommended. Stay in communication with your doctor so that any changes or developments can result in an immediate plan of action.

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