October is breast cancer awareness month and many people think October is the time to schedule an annual mammogram; however, it is important to set up your breast cancer screening whenever you are due. Studies show that women who delay their mammograms a few months are more likely to skip a year or two, leaving them more vulnerable to missing an abnormality.
Mammography is still the best method for early detection, says Dr Geocaris. There are two types of mammograms that can be ordered, a 2D and a 3D. The 3- dimensional mammogram, or tomosynthesis is the most accurate method for early detection. These types of mammograms are commonly offered at hospital sites, not rural clinics, so it is important to ask your doctor which type of mammogram is available when scheduling.
Women should begin screening mammograms at age 50 and continue to get them annually. For women who have a family history or other increased risk, they should begin mammograms at age 40 and continue to receive them once a year.
One of the most common questions that Dr Geocaris receives is when can I stop getting mammograms? There really is not an age to stop. “As long as you are healthy enough to go to the doctor, you are healthy enough to get your mammogram”, says Dr Geocaris.
It is important to come prepared for your mammogram. Your exam will last about 25- 30 minutes, but you should leave enough time to obtain extra pictures if needed. Don’t wear deodorant to your mammogram as it may affect your results. Many breast centers will provide deodorant when you leave. There is some discomfort or pressure with a mammogram, but it will not last long. Many facilities will offer same day results, so you are not waiting too long.
Mammograms are not harmful. While there is a tiny amount of radiation exposure, the risk of not getting a mammogram is much higher than the risk of radiation exposure.
So, if it’s that time of year, call your doctor’s office and set yours up today.