Regular Mammograms May Be the Key to Your Breast Health
Detecting breast cancer early is the key to fighting it head on. The best approach is a combination of regular breast exams and mammography. Talk to your doctor about what’s best for you based on your personal and family health history.
What Are Mammograms?
Mammograms are series of X-rays that show images of the soft tissue of your breast. Along with breast self-exams and clinical breast exams, mammograms are important screenings to help detect breast cancer early, when it’s easiest to treat.
3D mammography, also known as breast tomosynthesis, is another type of mammogram that works similar to a CT scan, offering a more comprehensive view of the breast tissue. Many Banner Health facilities offer 3D mammography.
You might have a mammogram for a couple of reasons:
- Screening mammogram – a routine screening when you don’t have any signs of problems. Such routine screenings are important for early detection before you have symptoms.
- Diagnostic mammogram – a screening to rule out or diagnose breast cancer or another condition, such as a noncancerous lump, if you have symptoms
Do Mammograms Hurt?
Not too much. Mammograms are more comfortable now thanks to changes in technology and design. Mammograms are generally quick and relatively painless.
Take a minute to schedule your appointment:
- If you are still having menstrual periods, you may want to have your mammogram done within 2 weeks after your period ends. The procedure will be more comfortable, especially if your breasts become tender before your period starts.
- If you have previously had a mammogram at another facility, have the films sent or bring them with you to your examination.
A few do’s and don’ts before your exam:
- To reduce breast tenderness, don’t drink anything with caffeine 2 days before your appointment.
- If your doctor says it’s OK, you may also want to take Tylenol or Advil about an hour before your appointment.
- Don’t use any deodorant, perfume, powders, or ointments on your breasts. The residue left on your skin can interfere with the X-rays.
Be sure to tell the imaging center staff if you:
- Are pregnant or might be pregnant — mammograms use low-dose radiation and we don’t recommended them for routine screening during pregnancy.
- Are breast-feeding — mammograms may not give clear results if your breasts contain milk.
- Have breast implants — breast implants require a different type of mammogram method.
- Have previously had a breast biopsy — knowing the location of scar tissue will help the radiologist read your mammogram accurately.