Mammogram Facts: Everything You Need to Know

Still haven’t gotten your first mammogram? Here are a few facts about mammograms every woman should know:

The Importance of Mammograms

1. Both breast exams and mammograms are vital to early detection. 85 percent of lesions can be detected with a mammogram. However, in order to make sure you are 100 percent protected, women should get both a breast exam and a mammogram.

2. Mammograms are important even if you don’t have a family history of breast cancer. A majority of women who develop breast cancer do not have a family history of it. Here are important guidelines from the American Cancer Society: 

  • Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health.
  •  Clinical breast exam (CBE) about every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over.
  •  Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast change promptly to their health care provider. Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s.
  •  Some women – because of their family history, a genetic tendency, or certain other factors – should be screened with MRI in addition to mammograms. (The number of women who fall into this category is small: less than 2% of all the women in the US.) Talk with your doctor about your history and whether you should have additional tests at an earlier age.

3. There are two types of mammograms available. Screening mammograms are done for women who have not detected a lump or any symptoms of breast cancer. It involves doing two x-rays of each breast. Diagnostic mammograms are done when a lump has been found with a regular breast exam.

4. Women with breast implants can get mammograms. Worried your breast implant might be an issue when going to get a mammogram? As long as you notify the radiologist prior to the mammogram, there shouldn’t be an issue. While breast implants hide some tissue, the radiologist or technician will be able to x-ray the breasts at different angles to see as much as possible.

5. Both false positives and false negatives are possible with a mammogram. False negatives are most common in younger women due to dense breast tissue, but it’s not likely. False positives can happen in women who have had breast biopsies in the past and women who are taking estrogen.

Request your mammogram today.