Preparing for a Mammogram
Before you schedule a mammogram, the American Cancer Society
recommends that you discuss any new findings or problems in your breasts with your doctor. In addition, inform your doctor of any
pertinent history, including prior surgeries, hormone use, or family or personal history of breast cancer.
When you're ready to set up your appointment, don't schedule your
mammogram for the week before your period if your breasts are usually tender during this time. In that case, the best time is one week following your period.
ACS also has these recommendations:
- Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder, or lotion under your arms on the day of the exam. This can interfere
with the mammogram by appearing on the x-ray film as calcium spots.
- Describe any breast symptoms or problems to the technologist performing the exam.
- If possible, obtain prior mammograms and make them available to the radiologist at the time of the current
- Ask when your results will be available.
When Should a Woman Get a Mammogram?
Breast cancer strikes about 180,000 American women yearly and kills about 44,000, according to both the American Cancer Society (ACS) and NCI. Next to skin cancer, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed
cancer in women in the United States. It is second only to lung cancer in cancer-related deaths. Although the risk
of developing the disease increases as a woman gets older, it can occur in young women and even in a small number of men.
While there has never been a disagreement on the health benefits of annual screening mammograms for women
age 50 to 69 according to ACS, there has been a split among health-care organizations about when and how often
women in other age groups should get a mammogram. Current guidelines from ACS recommend women age 40 to
49 have a routine screening mammogram every one to two years, with the first one beginning at age 40.
NCI agrees that women in their 40s who are at average risk for breast cancer should have a screening
mammogram every one to two years. In addition, the institute says women who are at increased risk due to a
genetic history of breast cancer, or who have had breast cancer, may need to get mammograms at an earlier age and more frequently.
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