Why You Need To Get A Mammogram This Breast Cancer Awareness Month

During the month of October, breast cancer organizations in the United States and all over the world join forces to help bring awareness to this disease, encourage women to get a mammogram and raise money to fund research and charities. National Breast Cancer Awareness month is the perfect time to educate yourself, show support for survivors and make sure that you schedule your own mammogram. Early detection is key and a mammogram is an effective way to identify potential problems and be proactive about your health. If you have never had a mammogram, here are some answers to commonly asked questions to help get prepared for your first appointment.

What is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is a type of x-ray that is used to take a picture of your breast tissue. A qualified radiologist will place your breast on a special platform and gradually compress it with a clear plastic plate. While this can be uncomfortable, it is necessary in order to create an even thickness so that all of the tissue can be captured in the x-ray. This also makes it possible to detect abnormalities that can hide in the breast tissue. 

During the mammogram, the radiologist will take top to bottom x-rays along with side views in order to get comprehensive images of the entire breast. From there, the doctor will take a closer look at the images and determine if there needs to be further testing. The entire procedure only takes about 20 minutes and can help detect signs of breast cancer up to three years before you would find a lump using self-exam techniques.

What is a Digital Mammogram?

Your doctor may use digital mammogram technology to take and store your images. Essentially, the testing procedure is the same as with traditional methods, but with digital mammograms, the images are turned into digital data rather than films. This allows both computers and radiologists to examine the results. Digital mammograms also require a lower radiation dose and the images can be computer enhanced for better clarity. For doctors, the digital images are much easier to store and share with colleagues in order to get a second opinion.

Ultimately, both traditional and digital mammograms offer about the same successful diagnosis rate, so if your doctor isn’t using this technology yet, you will still receive the same results.

When Should I Get a Mammogram?

Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer in women, which means that is never too early to get a mammogram. That being said, the Radiological Society of North America recommends that women begin getting mammograms at the age of 40. Between the ages of 40 and 55, women should get a mammogram every year. After age 55, your doctor may want you to come in every 1 to 2 years. If you are at a higher risk for breast cancer, it is a good idea to get a mammogram on a yearly basis.

While it is certainly possible for younger women to get breast cancer, mammograms aren’t quite as effective in people 40 and below. Younger women tend to have more dense breast tissue, which can make it difficult to take x-rays. If you are below 40 and at a higher risk for breast cancer, be sure to perform a self-breast exam on a monthly basis. This will help you understand how your breasts usually feel and make it easier to detect any changes or lumps. 

What are the Breast Cancer Risk Factors?   

Unfortunately, some women are at a higher risk for breast cancer than others. If a close relative, such as your mother, sister or daughter has been diagnosed with breast cancer, then you are at a higher risk. The aging process and previous instances of breast cancer also put you at a higher risk. While you can’t control these particular factors, there are other lifestyle choices you can make in order to reduce your risk. 

It is important to:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Incorporate fruits and vegetables into your diet
  • Avoid processed meats and other foods
  • Exercise regularly
  • Quit smoking 
  • Reduce alcohol consumption

Making these changes and paying attention to your overall health will help reduce your risk of getting breast cancer. While there is no way to prevent breast cancer, you can practice due diligence and avoid putting yourself at unnecessary risk. 

How Do I Prepare for a Mammogram? 

Once you have found a certified facility and made an appointment, there are a few things you do to make your mammogram go as smoothly as possible. First, avoid scheduling your appointment close to your menstrual cycle when your breasts may already be swollen and sensitive. This will help you reduce any discomfort a much as possible.

For the mammogram, you will be asked to remove some of your clothing and wear a hospital gown to cover your upper half. Be sure to wear a two-piece outfit and something that is easy to slip on and off. You should also avoid applying any deodorant or perfume as these can interfere with the x-rays.    

Otherwise, you won’t have to worry about fasting or skipping your regular medications. You can go about your day as normal and spend a short time at the doctor’s office getting images that may lead to early detection. 

No one loves going to the doctor, but National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is the perfect time to get a mammogram screening and lead by example. This simple action can help encourage your loved ones to take better care of their own health and make an appointment.   
At Artemis Hair Studio, we are proud to support National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and help chemotherapy patients enjoy beautiful, high-quality wigs that allow patients to look and feel as confident as possible as they go through treatment. Dealing with cancer doesn’t have to mean losing your identity. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help those dealing with hair loss due to chemotherapy and other causes.

10/01/19 | 0 comments | in Uncategorized

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