Some 300,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer yearly, and an early diagnosis remains the best chance for successful treatment. While this might sound like a scary statistic, you can rest easy knowing that your Memphis Obstetrics & Gynecological Association, P.C. team is constantly working to protect you from joining that number. One of the best ways to secure your health is to get regular mammograms at our MOGA office, and we’re here to tell you what you need to know about mammograms so you can prepare for your next screening.
Getting a mammogram is one of the best decisions you can make for your health. Our team at MOGA knows that this can be an intimidating process, but early screening and detection help us give you better outcomes and put your mind at ease. Keep reading to learn more.
What is a mammogram?
Mammograms are excellent tools that help your MOGA team detect lumps, tumors, or cysts before they are big enough to be seen by a general or self-breast exam. Using a sophisticated X-ray machine designed specifically for mammography, we can take images of the breasts that tell you if you have a growth that needs further examination.
X-rays work by producing a “negative” picture of the breast tissue so that any solid material that we need to watch out for shows up white on the film. If we don’t find any white spots, you’re good to go until your next regular screening. If we discover an area needing further evaluation, we’ll conduct another mammogram in a follow-up appointment.
Mammograms have been in practice for about 30 years, and improvements in modern technology have increased their accuracy and effectiveness over time. There are two main types of mammograms that help our team monitor your health.
Screening Mammogram: If you don’t have any symptoms or signs of early breast cancer, your MOGA team will use a screening mammogram during your checkup. Screenings allow your doctor to track your breast health over time. We recommend regular screenings to make sure spots aren’t developing undetected.
With a screening mammogram, we’ll take 2 X-rays of each breast. This process is quick, typically only lasting around 10-15 minutes. Fortunately, screening mammograms are covered under most insurance plans, so you shouldn’t expect an out-of-pocket payment at this appointment.
Diagnostic Mammogram: If you’ve recently experienced symptoms of breast cancer or your screening came back abnormal, we’ll conduct a diagnostic mammogram. This procedure requires multiple X-rays of each breast so we can focus on the abnormalities found in your screening.
When your doctor requests a diagnostic mammogram, it does not mean you have breast cancer, even if we did see a lump on your last screening. It does mean we need to look further to ensure we give you the best possible care. Additional X-rays allow your doctor to focus on the area in question to evaluate your risk for cancer. We might follow up a diagnostic mammogram with a follow-up appointment, breast ultrasound, or a biopsy.
When should I get a screening mammogram?
Once you turn 40, you should be getting regular screening mammograms every one to two years. However, suppose you have a family history of breast cancer. In that case, we recommend starting screenings ten years before the age an immediate family member was diagnosed with breast cancer so we can track your risk over time. For example, if your mother was 45 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, you should begin screening at 35.
You should always talk with your doctor if you’re wondering when to start screening. Although these guidelines are standard for most women, your doctor might recommend a different timeline depending on your unique case.
What should I expect from a mammogram?
At Memphis Obstetrics and Gynecological Association, P.C., we know that mammograms can feel a little scary, especially if it’s your first time. Knowing what to expect before your appointment can ease your mind and make the process more comfortable.
When you arrive at our practice, we’ll take you back to a private examination room where you will undress from the waist up. You’ll wear a gown and head back with the trained technician to conduct your exam. We value your privacy and comfortability, so your technician will be the only other person in the room with you during your exam.
One at a time, your technician will position your breasts between two imaging plates. These plates will hold your breast in place during the imaging process with slight pressure. Then, we’ll take multiple images of each breast.
After that, you’re all set to go home. Depending on the results, your doctor might request additional imaging. You should hear back from our office within 48 hours of your mammogram.
Tip #1: Don’t wear perfumes or scented deodorants during this exam. This could interfere with the X-ray machine.
Tip #2: Try to relax as much as possible. The pressure applied by the imaging plates can be uncomfortable, but the more you relax, the more tolerable the process will be.
Remember: Abnormal readings are not uncommon, and there are many times that an abnormal reading reveals a benign cyst or dense breast tissue rather than a cancerous tumor.
Your Best Chance For Successful Treatment
We make it our mission to protect our patients at Memphis Obstetrics and Gynecological Association, P.C. That’s why early screenings and regular mammograms are essential to your care – they’re your best chance for successful treatment.
If you’re around the age of 40 or if you have a family history of breast cancer, it’s time to schedule your first screening. We have four convenient locations that serve patients across the Midsouth area. Contact one of our East Memphis, Germantown, Wolfchase, or Desoto offices to schedule your appointment today.