Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Let’s Talk Mammograms

There has been a great deal of discussion of late, concerning mammograms. Who should have them?  How often should you have one?  What do they look for? Are they really helpful??

The American Cancer Society recommends screening mammograms yearly for women 40 years old and older. Mammogram is still an effective and valuable tool for finding breast abnormalities.  

However, mammograms do have limitations. They can miss a cancer and /or a mammogram may lead to further testing or biopsy of findings that are not cancer.

There are 2 types of mammograms :  Screening and Diagnostic.

A screening mammogram is an x-ray of the breasts used for women with no breast symptoms. Usually 2 views or pictures are taken of each breast. This type of mammogram looks for areas in the breast that have an abnormal appearance.

A diagnostic mammogram will focus on an area in the breast that has been identified as an abnormal looking area. This type of mammogram involves more views and possibly 3-D images of the breast called Tomosynthesis. This offers a closer look at a particular area in the breast.

PinnacleHealth’s newest women's health campaign is “ Make a Date Every 8.” Challenge yourself  the 8th of every month to learn more about your health.  Sign up at  for health tips and reminders.

So here are my 8 tips  to make mammograms easier , with the help of the American Cancer Society  and PinnacleHealth Women’s Imaging.

  1. Try and schedule your mammogram when you usually have the least amount of breast tenderness.  The week to avoid would be the week  prior to your menstrual cycle. PinnacleHealth allows you to request a mammogram online.
  2. If needed , try an over-the-counter pain medication prior to your mammogram such a Tylenol or Ibuprophen.
  3. Don’t use deodorant prior to your mammogram. All those “ sparkles” in your deodorant can appear on the x-ray film. Most facilities have wipes you can use if you forget. 
  4. You will need to remove you top and bra and will wear a gown. Wear something easy to remove.  
  5. Inform your mammogram Tech if you are currently having a breast problem or have found a lump.  You are your own best advocate!
  6. The mammogram Tech will help you get positioned in the mammogram machine for your pictures.  The only people in the room will be you and your Tech. 
  7. If you are going to a new facility please bring your old records or films if possible. The best way to read mammograms is to compare year to year and look for changes.
  8. Remember your insurance info and if you don’t have insurance there are funds available through PinnacleHealth WomenCare to help you! Just ask! 

Take care of yourself and see you next month!