A simple test such like a mammogram can dramatically reduce the risk of breast cancer through early diagnosis.
What can mammograms do?
Breast cancers are among the largest medical killers of women worldwide. In the U.S. alone, one in three women is diagnosed with the disease and about 12% of women risk developing breast cancer at some point in their life. However, with increasing awareness, it is possible to considerably reduce those statistics.
Early detection is key for protection against breast cancer. This is easy with regular screening mammograms. Mammograms and breast self-examination procedures can detect cancer early, leading to rapid treatment and less invasive surgeries.
Here are a few guidelines that you can follow regarding mammograms:
- Regular mammograms can detect changes in the breast tissue as early as two years before the actual appearance of breast cancer. Early detection means that smaller cancers can be found.
- Women with a family history of breast cancer and a genetic component to cancer should seek medical advice immediately, and they should start screening regularly by the age of 40.
- Doctors recommend annual screening mammograms, followed by a more intensive diagnostic mammogram if the screening mammogram reveals the risk of breast cancer. A screening mammogram is recommended once every two years for women once they reach the age of 50.
- For some high-risk cases, physicians may even recommend earlier mammograms. Doctors will compare every previous record of mammograms in the subsequent years to find changes that may occur in breast tissue over the years. In the U.S., a Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) evaluation is done by the radiologist to evaluate these X-rays at the national level.
How to prepare for mammograms
Prepare for your mammogram by regular breast self-examination at home. Report any new changes in the breast tissue to your doctor and prepare for mammograms with these few steps:
- Do not schedule an appointment when your breasts are more tender, especially during a pregnancy or while menstruating.
- Do not wear talcum, perfume, or lotion as these appear as white dots on a mammogram and can cause confusion when interpreting the results.
- Submit all previous mammograms to the doctor for evaluation and check back with the doctor to ensure that the report is fine.
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