(RxWiki News) Mammograms can help detect breast cancer at an early stage. And early detection of breast cancer can be a very good thing.
That’s because early breast cancer treatment can increase the chance of survival. Here’s everything you need to know about mammograms during this Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. This picture can help a health care provider detect breast cancer early.
Another equally important exam is the regular breast self-check. Read “Detecting Breast Cancer Early” for steps on how to conduct a breast self-exam.
Your doctor may also perform a clinical breast exam, which is when he or she uses his or her hands to feel for lumps or other changes in the breast.
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that women do the following:
Women face a higher-than-average risk for breast cancer if they have a parent, sibling or child with breast cancer. Women at a higher-than-average risk may benefit more if they begin screening in their 40s.
Other leading organizations’ guidelines, such as guidelines from the American Cancer Society, may indicate a different frequency of screening. Speak with your health care provider about how often you should be screened for breast cancer.
If you want to be screened, call your gynecologist’s office. He or she can help you schedule an appointment. Most insurance plans cover mammograms every one to two years for women age 40 and older. If you are worried that you cannot afford a mammogram, see if you qualify for low-cost screening made available by the CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP).
A mammogram is uncomfortable for most women. Some even find the experience painful. The good thing is that your mammogram will not take too long to complete.
Your mammogram will be read by a radiologist. It may take a few weeks to receive the results, although this depends on the facility. If you do not get your results within 30 days, contact your doctor or the mammography facility.
Remember that an abnormal mammogram does not always mean cancer. If the results show an abnormality, you may need to have additional mammograms, tests or exams before your doctor will know for sure.
When preparing for a mammogram, consider the following tips:
Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about breast cancer or screening.
Written by Anyssa Garza, PharmD, BCMAS