October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. It’s time to think pink and practice breast cancer prevention. A mammogram once every other year is a must for women over the age of 40 who do not have any signs of breast cancer. Studies have shown that getting screened regularly after age 40 reduces the overall number of deaths due to breast cancer.
If a woman has symptoms of breast cancer, a diagnostic mammogram should be performed. Breast cancer symptoms to be aware of include: lumps around the breast or underarm, fluid leakage, discoloration or change in texture of nipple or breast, and any change in shape or size. Many times the symptoms turn out to be benign (harmless), but they should always be checked out.
You can schedule a mammogram with your family doctor, local hospital, health care center, walk-in clinic, or other radiology centers. Your insurance should cover most of the cost; be sure to consult with your insurance company to find which locations are covered and how frequently you can go.
You will be asked to remove the clothing from your upper body in a private room and put on a wrap-around top. In the X-ray room, the radiologist will gently position your body and adjust your breast on a metal plate. Another plate will be moved down and it will press on your breast slightly for optimal imaging. There may be temporary discomfort at this point but for only a short period.
The technician will usually take two X-ray images of each breast for a typical screening test. A diagnostic test will require more images including close-ups of particular areas of concern. The process should take around 20 to 30 minutes.
The specialist who reviews your X-rays will look for tumors or small calcium deposits that could indicate the presence of breast cancer. Your results should be available within 30 days. Approximately one in ten women may be asked to return for follow-up images. A follow-up mammogram does not necessarily mean breast cancer has been found; usually, the doctor just needs a better image. Keep in mind that dense breast tissue or breast implants can make mammogram images more difficult to read at times.
Do you need to schedule a mammogram? Let the Mammography Center at Medical Center Arlington take care of you this October. Please call (817) 472-4857 and make an appointment today.