May is Mammography Month. Early detection SAVES lives.

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(Para leer la versión en español ir a Noticias Relacionadas).
Mammograms are the best tool doctors have to find breast cancer early. A mammogram can show early signs of breast cancer long before you or your doctor can feel or see changes. When breast cancer is found and treated early, many women go on to live a long and healthy life.

What is a mammogram and how is it done?

A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray picture of the breast. A woman stands in front of a mammography machine and one of her breasts is placed on a plate and gently, but firmly, pressed from another plate above her breast. The plates flatten the breast and keep it still, which helps produce a better mammogram image. The pressure lasts a few seconds and does not harm the breast. The same steps are repeated with the other breast. The plates of the machine are then tilted to take a side view of each breast. When done a woman will have had two different X-rays of each breast for a total of four images.

Will the mammogram hurt?

Most women say that getting a mammogram is uncomfortable. A few women say that it is painful, although the pain doesn’t last very long. What you experience will depend on the size of your breasts, how much they need to be pressed, the skill of the technologist, and where you are in your monthly menstrual cycle.

When do I get the results?

The way you get the results of your mammogram varies by facility. At many facilities, the radiologist reads the mammogram in a few days to a few weeks and sends the results to you and your doctor. Some facilities ask you to wait several hours while the radiologist reads it that day.

Almost all facilities ask that you wait until the mammogram film is developed and checked to make sure it is clear and doesn’t need to be redone. Digital mammography equipment can display the image within a minute or two of taking the X-ray. This enable the technologist to tell almost immediately if an image needs to be redone.

What can affect my mammogram?

Surgery and major injuries can affect your mammogram. Be sure to tell your health care team if you have had breast reduction, breast reconstruction, or breast implants. Women with certain surgical procedures may need additional x-ray pictures taken during their mammogram.

When should I get a mammogram?

Most medical experts agree that women who have had no previous breast symptoms or problems should begin getting mammograms at age 40. (They no longer recommend getting a baseline mammogram at age 35.) Most recommend that a woman get a mammogram every one to two years. Talk to your doctor if you have any breast symptoms or a family history of breast cancer. You may need to get tested earlier or more frequently.

Last week DBCC staff attended a proclamation signing where Governor Markell declared May Mammography month.