What to Expect During a Breast Cancer Screening
Sponsored by the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc., October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. During this time, the foundation raises funds for ongoing breast cancer research while increasing public awareness about the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women. People of all ages wear pink to remember and honor loved ones lost to this vicious disease. One of the best ways to prevent the spread of breast cancer is to educate people about the importance of breast cancer screenings, as early detection and treatment is key. Below, Pegalis Law Group, LLC discusses what to expect during a breast cancer screening to alleviate anxiety.
What Is a Breast Cancer Screening or Mammogram?
Also referred to as a mammogram, a breast cancer screening involves taking an X-ray of your breasts to get a clearer picture of your breast tissue. During your breast cancer screening, your mammographer is looking for any signs or symptoms commonly associated with breast cancer. These may include any or all of the following, although not every woman diagnosed with breast cancer exhibits symptoms:
- Visible lumps in the breasts or underarms
- Changes in breast size or shape
- Swelling or thickening of the breasts
- Breast skin or nipple irritation, redness, flakiness, or dimpling
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk (usually blood)
- Breast or nipple pain
In addition to mammograms, it is recommended that women perform monthly self-check breast examinations. Should you notice any of the above symptoms when performing your self-check, be sure to call your doctor immediately. It should be noted that what may be considered atypical for you may be normal to another woman. Every breast is different, and many women may have uneven or lumpy breasts from weight loss or gain, hormonal changes caused during pregnancy or menopause, or taking certain medications.
What Happens During a Mammogram Procedure?
You’ll be asked to undress down to your waist, and your breasts will be pressed flatly onto the mammogram machine’s platform one at a time using a plastic plate or paddle to compress them. X-rays are usually taken from above and to the side of your breasts to provide the most accurate images. Although the procedure is generally described as uncomfortable and sometimes even painful, keep in mind it will be over quickly, especially if you stay still during each X-ray. Most mammograms take less than half an hour of your time with fast results, usually coming within two weeks of your appointment. Although mammograms are not 100% accurate, often providing false positives or missing specific types of cancer, they remain among the best diagnostic tools available to detect and treat breast cancer early.
Are Mammograms Recommended for Every Woman?
Most women do not need to schedule a mammogram before the age of 40, although this may vary according to your personal and family medical history. Women with a higher risk for breast cancer, who may be pregnant, or who have dense breast tissue or breast implants may require a breast ultrasound or breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) instead of a conventional mammogram for the best results. Your doctor may also complete a clinical breast exam in which they feel your breasts for any signs of irregularities. Other diagnostic tools include blood and lab tests to check for any inherited genetic markers linked to breast cancer. Be sure to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your healthcare provider when scheduling your mammogram.
Creating Proactive Patients to Improve Healthcare Standards
Pegalis Law Group, LLC is a New York-based law firm focused on personal injury and medical malpractice cases. For nearly 50 years, we’ve educated clients and the public about the importance of being proactive patients to ensure improved universal healthcare measures. Please visit our website and be sure to follow us on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to receive additional healthcare insights.