A mammogram is a non-invasive screening procedure that can detect signs of breast cancer early before noticeable symptoms occur (such as a lump or a nipple discharge) – which is when it may be too late for successful treatment. Mammograms are considered the gold standard in breast cancer screening.
The decision of when to schedule a mammogram is something you should discuss with your gynecologist or your primary care provider (PCP). The doctor will make recommendations based on your medical history, your family’s medical history, and your lifestyle.
There are a few myths and misconceptions about mammograms that might prevent a woman from getting screened. Let’s talk about the most common myths about mammograms and the actual facts, and where you can go in Sarasota and Manatee County for outstanding medical care to keep you healthy.
Myth #1: Mammograms Are Only for Older Women
Breast cancer screening guidelines differ from woman to woman, based on your risk. If your mother, sister, grandmother, or other relatives had breast cancer especially if diagnosed at a younger age, then your primary care provider will likely recommend that you have a mammogram at a relatively early age.
If you have no history of breast cancer in your family, keep in mind that 85% of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer do not have it in their families. Mammograms are thus important for every woman, including those who are at average risk of breast cancer, at least by age 40.
Myth #2: Mammograms Are Only Necessary If There Is a Lump
A mammogram is performed for breast cancer screening, and screening – by definition – is done to check for disease even without symptoms. Mammograms may detect breast cancer cells up to several years before a lump can begin to be manually felt. If breast cancer is indeed caught during a routine mammogram, the patient will have more treatment options available to her – and a much better chance at survival.
Myth #3: An Abnormal Mammogram Means Cancer
Abnormal mammograms are very common – and when they turn out to be nothing, they are sometimes called “false positives.” As many as 50% of women are believed to have an abnormal mammogram over the course of 10 years, and most of these are false positives. That said, some of them do indicate cancer, which is why having a mammogram is so important to your health and longevity.
Myth #4: Mammograms Can Cause Cancer
Mammograms use low-dose X-rays, which are set at the lowest position needed to produce accurate images of breast tissue without it being harmful to the patient. A mammogram exposes a woman to 0.4 mSv, which is equivalent to natural background radiation exposure absorbed over the course of about two months.
It, therefore, does not pose excessive radiation exposure, which could hasten cancer. If you are concerned about being exposed to X-ray radiation, talk to your doctor about having a breast ultrasound or a breast MRI instead, which does not use radiation.
Myth #5: Traditional Mammograms and 3D Mammograms Are the Same
Three-dimensional (3-D, or 3D) mammograms are the most modern screening tool for breast cancer. A 3D mammogram can produce clear and detailed images of the entire breast thanks to its ability to take pictures of the breast tissue from different angles, thereby producing a 3D image for your doctor’s evaluation. A traditional mammogram only produces images from a single angle at a time.
This higher level of detail, in 3D, improves the doctor’s ability to accurately detect early-stage breast cancer. It also decreases the incidence of false alarms.
3D Mammograms in Sarasota and Manatee County, Florida
Intercoastal Medical Group is a multi-specialty practice that provides primary care services and medical imaging services for all facets of adult healthcare. Our primary care physicians offer comprehensive men’s and women’s health services, including breast care and various cancer screenings.
We provide state-of-the-art medical imaging tests, including 3D mammograms for optimum breast cancer screening. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment with one of our world-class doctors, call our clinic nearest you or fill out our appointment request form online now. We look forward to providing for all of your healthcare needs!
3D digital mammograms are performed at our Lakewood Ranch I and Cattleridge Medical Building locations.