Are there symptoms?
In its early stages, breast cancer usually has no symptoms. Regular breast cancer screenings are the best way to detect something before symptoms appear. Symptoms can include a lump and/or pain in the breast(s); but there are many reasons these symptoms can occur. Other symptoms include swelling, skin changes, and nipple changes.
You should talk to your doctor about your family history and your personal history. Your doctor will help determine what is best for you.
What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is an x-ray picture that can be used to check for breast cancer in women who may or may not have signs or symptoms.
Who should get a mammogram?
The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends:
- Women ages 50-74 should have a mammogram performed every two years.
- Women ages 40-49 should talk to their doctor about what is best for them.
- Some national organizations recommend starting mammography screening before age 50. We recommend that you talk with your doctor about what is best for you.
- Women younger than age 40 and older than age 74 should talk to their doctor.
As with all clinical screenings, please talk with your doctor about what is best for you.
How is a mammogram done?
An x-ray technician places your breasts, one at a time, on a special x-ray machine. The machine compresses the breasts to make it easier to get a clear picture. You will feel some pressure for a few seconds. This screening can take about 20 minutes.
Should I be concerned about the radiation from a mammogram?
How do I prepare for a mammogram?
No, the amount of radiation during a mammogram is very minimal.
You should check with the mammogram facility for information about how to prepare.
Some helpful tips:
- If you are still having menstrual periods, try to schedule your mammogram appointment during the week before your period. Your breasts might be less tender and swollen. The mammogram will hurt less.
- Let the facility know if you have breast implants when you make your appointment.
- Wear clothes that are easy to take off; that way you only have to undress from the waist up.
- Wearing deodorant or perfume may interfere with the mammogram; be sure not to wear any to your appointment.
- If you have had a mammogram at another facility, have the x-rays sent to the new facility so that they can be compared to your new mammogram.
What happens if my doctor finds something from the mammogram?
There are many reasons something might show up on a mammogram. The best thing you can do is follow up with your doctor to talk about your results. Your doctor can help you understand the results.
Be sure to talk to your doctor about what is best for you. If you need help finding a doctor, call us at 855-469-7226 (toll free).