Mammogram Dos & Don’ts
Mammograms are an essential part of diagnosing breast cancer! But what really is a mammogram? Should you tell your doctor about tattoos, piercings and body modifications that may impact the results? When should you start scheduling mammograms? In short, mammograms are a form of breast cancer screenings that utilize X-rays to detect early signs of cancer. And yes, you should disclose with your doctor any body modifications, among other things!
Screening For Breast Cancer With Mammograms
Mammograms utilize low-energy X-rays to examine breast tissue. These will show your doctor any abnormalities or concerning tissues that may need further screening. While mammograms make diagnosis easier, there are some debates on when women should begin screenings! Overall, a good rule of thumb is to begin annual mammogram screenings by the age of 50. However, you should:
- Perform self-examinations as early as age 25
- Consider annual breast cancer screenings by age 40
- Switch to two annual mammograms by age 55
Mammograms also are not perfect. They can produce false-negative results when your natural breast tissue hides cancerous masses. You can also receive overtreatment or a false-positive result if your doctor suspects tissue in your X-rays may be cancerous. However, according to Yale Medicine, mammograms can be up to 98% effective in detecting early breast cancer in women.
You should absolutely:
- Discuss with your doctor any tattoos that may impact screening results
- Let your doctor know of past breast treatments and screenings with dates and places
- Remove body jewelry (such as piercings and necklaces)
- Tell your doctor of any changes or problems with your breasts
- Disclose whether you’re breastfeeding or if you may be pregnant
Some general guidelines to follow when scheduling your mammogram include:
- Avoid scheduling your mammogram the week prior to your period to prevent tenderness
- Don’t wear difficult clothing – instead, wear pants or a skirt
- Refrain from using skincare products before your appointment (deodorants, lotions, perfumes, etc.)
- Skip foods and drinks that may contain caffeine (coffee, tea, energy drinks, etc.)
While mammograms aren’t perfect, they help to detect early signs of breast cancer and begin treatment earlier. If you are a woman over 40, please consider scheduling an appointment with Comanche County Memorial Hospital’s Women’s Imaging experts.
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National Cancer Institute.