Every year, nearly 300,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and an early diagnosis is the best chance for successful treatment. While this might sound like a scary statistic, you can rest easy knowing that your Women’s Health Specialists team will help prevent you from joining that number. One of the best ways to monitor your health is to get regular mammograms at our Germantown office, and we’re here to tell you what you need to know about mammograms so you can prepare for your next screening.
Getting a mammogram is one of the best decisions you can make for your health. Our Women’s Health Specialists team knows that this can feel intimidating, but early screening and detection help us give you better outcomes and put your mind at ease. Keep reading to learn more.
What is a mammogram?
Mammograms are excellent tools that help your Women’s Health Specialists team detect lumps, tumors, or cysts before they are big enough to be seen by a general or self-breast exam. We use a sophisticated X-ray machine designed specifically for mammography to take images of the breasts that determine if you have a growth that needs further examination.
X-rays work by producing a “negative” picture of the breast tissue so that any solid material we need to watch out for appears white on the film. If we don’t find any white spots, you’re in the clear until your next regular screening. If we discover an area that needs further evaluation, we’ll schedule a follow-up appointment to conduct further testing.
Mammograms have been common practice for about 30 years, and improvements in modern technology have increased their accuracy and effectiveness over time. There are two main types of mammograms that help our team monitor your health.
Screening Mammogram: If you don’t have any symptoms or signs of early breast cancer, your Women’s Health Specialist team will use a mammogram during your checkup. Screenings allow your doctor to track your breast health over time. We recommend regular screenings to make sure there are no spots developing.
With a screening mammogram, we’ll take two X-rays of each breast. This process is quick, typically only lasting around 10-15 minutes. Fortunately, screening mammograms are covered under most insurance plans, so you shouldn’t expect an out-of-pocket payment at this appointment.
Diagnostic Mammogram: If you’ve recently experienced symptoms of breast cancer or your screening came back abnormal, we’ll schedule a diagnostic mammogram. This procedure requires multiple X-rays of each breast so we can focus on the abnormalities found in your screening.
When your doctor requests a diagnostic mammogram, it does not mean you have breast cancer, even if we did see a lump on your screening. It does mean we need to look further to ensure we give you the best possible care. Additional X-rays allow us to focus on the area in question to evaluate your risk for cancer. We might follow up with a diagnostic mammogram with a follow-up appointment, a breast ultrasound, or a biopsy.
When should I get a screening mammogram?
Once you turn 40, you should have regular screening mammograms every one to two years. However, if you have a family history of breast cancer, we recommend starting screenings ten years before the age your family member was diagnosed so we can track your risk. For example, if your mother was 45 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, you should begin screening at 35.
You should always talk with your doctor if you’re wondering when to start screening. Although these guidelines are standard for most women, your doctor might recommend a different timeline depending on your unique case.
What should I expect from a mammogram?
At Women’s Health Specialists, we know that mammograms can feel a little scary, especially if it’s your first exam. Knowing what to expect before your appointment can ease your mind and make the process more comfortable.
When you arrive at our Germantown practice, we’ll take you to a private examination room where you will undress from the waist up. You’ll wear a gown, and one of our trained technicians will conduct your exam. We value your privacy and comfort, so your technician will be the only person in the room with you during your exam.
One at a time, your technician will position your breasts between two imaging plates. These plates will hold your breast in place during the imaging process with slight pressure. Then, we’ll take multiple images of each breast.
After that, you’re all set to go home. Depending on the results, your doctor might request additional imaging. You should hear back from our office within 7-10 days of your mammogram.
Tip #1: Don’t wear perfumes or deodorants during this exam. This could interfere with the X-ray machine.
Tip #2: Try to relax as much as possible. The pressure applied by the imaging plates can be uncomfortable, but the more you relax, the more tolerable the process will be.
Remember: Abnormal readings are not uncommon, and there are many times that an abnormal reading reveals a benign cyst or dense breast tissue rather than a cancerous tumor.
Schedule Your Mammogram with Women’s Health Specialists
Our mission is to protect our patients at Women’s Health Specialists. That’s why early screenings and regular mammograms are essential to your care and your best chance for successful treatment.
If you’re around the age of 40 or if you have a family history of breast cancer, it’s time to schedule your first screening. Contact our Germantown office to schedule your first screening and take the first step to early prevention.