Mammograms: They’re certainly not any woman’s idea of fun. And that means lots of women try to slide by without getting them regularly. Here’s the skinny on who needs a mammogram, from the National Cancer Institute.
- Women over 40 should get a mammogram at least every other year. Most doctors recommend screening every year.
- Women under 40 who are elevated risk for breast cancer should start earlier. Factors that increase your risk include family history, genetics, breast density, and previous diagnosis of breast cancer.
- Women who have had mastectomies and/or reconstructive surgery should discuss their risk for recurrence with their doctor and determine whether continued mammograms are necessary.
It’s important to remember that a woman’s risk of breast cancer increases with age. The number of cases is highest among women over 60. Your doctor may recommend that you switch from biannual to annual mammograms as you get older.
Many women find that a digital mammogram is more comfortable than a traditional one, if only because the test is shorter. It takes less time to capture a digital image of the breast, and if the image doesn’t turn out, the technician knows right away. That means patients have to come in less frequently for “retakes.”
Digital mammograms are also suggested for women who have denser breast tissue. Digital images are clearer and easier to manipulate, so the technician can examine and diagnose suspicious spots with greater accuracy.
Preparing for Your Mammogram
If it’s time for your mammogram, the first step is making the appointment. Choose a healthcare provider you trust, and opt for digital mammography if you have the choice. On the day of the appointment, you’ll want to follow these tips:
- Wear a shirt or blouse that unbuttons in the front. This will make it easier to undress before the test and redress afterward.
- Avoid wearing antiperspirant, deodorant, or baby powder under your arms on the day of the test. These substances can cause spots on your mammogram.
- Put on a pair of comfortable shoes. You’ll be standing during the test, and high heels could make you more uncomfortable.
At Central Florida Regional Hospital, we offer women digital mammography in a soothing, spa-like setting. Call Consult-a-Nurse® at 1-800-445-3392 to schedule your appointment.