Get Clear Answers to Your Top Mammogram Questions
Let’s get it off our chest, Mammograms aren’t fun.
While not the highlight of anyone’s day, Mammograms are an important part of your health journey. Mammograms are one of our first defenses in detecting breast cancer in a patient. This style of x-ray takes detailed images of the tissue to detect any lumps that cannot be seen or felt by yourself or your doctor. They can be used to preventively screen for any concerns or can be used to help further diagnose symptoms.
You can receive one of two mammograms, Screening or Diagnostic. This will depend on if you have any apparent symptoms of breast cancer or not. AFM recommends screening mammograms should be performed once a year as a preventative measure starting at the age of 40.
Do you need to get one?
The American Cancer Society estimates the risk of developing breast cancer for American women is 1 in 8. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women. With that being said, a mammogram is the best tool to screen for breast cancer. A mammogram can catch a lump up to two years before it can be felt. Finding breast cancer early saves lives and means that many women being treated for breast cancer are able to keep their breasts.
So, you’ve made an appointment to get your mammogram, here’s what to expect.
How long does it take? On average, a mammogram takes 20-30 minutes.
Does it hurt? Getting a mammogram for the first time can cause some anxiety because you don’t know what to expect. Some women may feel discomfort during the mammogram and some may feel nothing at all. The pressure against your breasts from the testing equipment can cause discomfort and that’s normal, but this process should only last 1-2 minutes. The discomfort level may vary depending on the size of your breasts, the density of your breast tissue, and the timing of the exam in relation to your menstrual cycle. The ideal time to schedule your mammogram tends to be a week after your period ends.
Does insurance cover it? On average, most insurance companies pay for a yearly screening mammogram. You may want to check with your insurance company if you are less than 40-45 years of age.
Cancer waits for no one, so AFM won’t make you wait. That’s why we have Saturday Mammography appointments available at our Horsetooth Office. Call for an appointment today!
Wise words from our Radiology Supervisor, Terri Farias, RT (R)(M)
Is it safe? “Studies show the benefits of a mammogram outweigh the small amount of radiation exposure you receive. Today, digital mammography produces high-quality breast images with low doses of radiation. The radiation dose a woman receives with a screening mammogram is about equal to the dose received over seven weeks from natural surroundings. Some women worry about their thyroid, but the amount of radiation from an annual mammogram does not increase the likelihood of developing thyroid cancer.”
What do you like the most about doing mammography testing? “I love the fact that the main purpose of my job is to save lives. Mammographers are kind and gentle. We understand that no two breasts are alike and we aspire to get the best possible images while keeping our patients calm and relaxed. We do our best to create a good experience for our patients so they will return year after year. The best part of my job is when a patient hugs me after their mammogram and tells me “thank you.” I am proud to call myself a mammographer, it is definitely my superpower.”
AFM Mammography Team
Terri Farias, RT (R)(M)