5 Myths About Mammograms Debunked

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6 Mammogram Myths | Johns Hopkins Medicine

There have been a lot of changes in breast cancer detection in the last 2 decades. Technology has made it easier to see an early mass, so all women whose doctor recommends a mammogram should absolutely have one done. The death rate among those whose cancer is caught too late is now the most it has ever been, at a whopping 40%. Of those who catch it early, have 90% chance to live because early breast cancer is very treatable.

Mammograms are a type of X-ray used to screen people for breast cancer and are often able to find tumors in the primary stage when the treatment for it is more successful. Today, digital mammograms are used to provide crisp, clear images that are instantly taken, looked over and promptly saved in a computer system for future reference.

This newest kind of digital mammography is done by 3D tomosynthesis, which gives doctors a perfect representation of the breast area. This type cuts down on any false positives by making it much simpler to see cancer, especially in younger women with dense breast tissue. Some women even find this test is much less painful than a standard mammogram.

Despite how far digital technology has come, many women still feel anxiety about getting a mammogram. This is mostly due to not having enough mammography education before-hand about why, when, and how the procedure itself, works. Education is key to quelling their fears, and by providing it, women will be less likely to avoid mammograms altogether.

The following are some misconceptions about mammograms

  • There are women who believe they don’t need a mammogram because breast cancer doesn’t run in the family. In all actuality, a significant percentage of women diagnosed have absolutely no family history of breast cancer at all, according to Laura D. Dominici, MD, FACS from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She states about 10% or 10 out of 100 cases of breast cancer found in women are without any family history.
  • Many women fear the radiation that comes from mammogram testing, however, according to Dr. Naomi Ko, there’s more radiation exposure in the outdoor atmosphere in a 7-week period as there is in one mammogram; there’s very little risk of issues. Although no test is perfect, the benefits mammograms bring are far greater than any possible radiation issues. Digital mammograms provide an 87% chance of an accurate reading, assuring that women will rarely get false-positives or false-negatives.
  • Many women fear the radiation that comes with mammogram testing, however, according to Dr. Naomi Ko, there’s more radiation exposure outdoors in a 7-week period as there is in one mammogram; there’s very little risk of complications. Although no test is perfect, the benefits mammograms bring are far greater than any possible radiation issues. Digital mammograms are valuable and provide an 87% chance of an accurate reading, assuring that women will rarely get false-positives or false-negatives.
  • Some women feel that because they had a negative mammogram in a prior year, they don’t need another one, but that is not true according to doctors. Although nothing may found in a particular year, that doesn’t automatically mean the next mammogram will be negative, also. Simply put, by having a mammogram every time your doctor recommends one, you will be able to find the tiniest cancer tumor barely visible to the naked eye, which will likely respond very well to treatment since it’s caught early.
  • Women often don’t take the risk of breast cancer seriously, thinking that it will never happen to them. False. Cancer is non-discriminating and anyone can get it.
  • Some think they do not need a mammogram unless they feel a lump themselves. This is false. By the time a lump can actually be palpated, it has advanced beyond the early stage significantly decreasing the chances to treat it effectively

This cannot be stated enough: breast cancer can be treated when caught in the early stage and it is important that women get their recommended mammograms. Even though they may say they are too busy or that they have too much to do taking care of everyone else, it’s imperative that they receive mammography education. They should be taught that by taking care of themselves, they will ensure they are able to care for their family for years to come. It is simple to get one done, it takes barely any time out of a schedule, so go GET YOUR MAMMOGRAMS!