Since a mammogram is able to find such small tumors, it will catch lumps long before manual exams or symptoms begin. Catching cancer early increases chances of positive treatment and desired outcomes.
Mammography has an overall accuracy rate of 90 percent and is highly regulated for image quality. Our mammography technologists are required to have extensive specialized training in order to perform these exams. The Women’s Diagnostic Center uses a state-of-the-art low radiation mammography machine which provides your physician with crisp, clear images for highly accurate readings.
Putting your exam off?
Often, excuses may arise in hopes of putting off having a mammogram. Lack of family risk factors, fear of the exam and fear of a positive finding are most common. The FDA reports most positive findings are not cancer, but benign tumors. Special tests such as biopsies are used to discern whether a lump is cancerous. Delaying the diagnosis of breast cancer does not change the diagnosis, it only increases your risk of a worse outcome — possibly death.
Who needs a mammogram?
All women should receive a mammogram by age 40 in order to establish a “baseline.” This “baseline” mammogram should be followed up every one to two years until age 49. At age 50, the American Cancer Society recommends annual exams. Younger women who have a high incidence of breast cancer in their family should set up a personal mammography/exam regimen with their doctor.
What can I expect?
A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray of the breast. The breast is placed on a device which compresses it, spreading the breast enabling the x-rays to produce a precise image. The technologists at the Women’s Diagnostic Center will work with each patient in order make this exam as comfortable as possible. Some mild discomfort may be experienced. This can be minimized by scheduling the mammogram just after the menstrual period ends and by avoiding caffeine one to two weeks prior to the exam.
Typically, the technologist will take two views of each breast, one from above and one from the side. The entire procedure takes about 20 minutes. Films taken at Mt Baker Imaging are read immediately by our specialized radiologists.
If the radiologist decides further pictures are needed, there is no need to panic. The vast majority of lumps found are non-cancerous, although it is important to find those that are so that treatment may begin as early as possible.