I remember being a teen and looking at the calendar on the kitchen wall where mom would keep track of appointments. I would often see mammogram & shudder. Mammograms were for mother’s, for older women. And from what she told me about them I was happy that it would be eons before I would ever be forced to get my young precious boobs smashed between cold metal plates and let a stranger see me topless!! Little did I know eons was really only a couple of decades, and now I’m someone’s mother too! In a few short years, my not so young and precious boobs will be getting smashed between cold metal plates too. Ha!
It is true, pain and discomfort are the big complaints we hear after a woman has her mammogram. I have not experienced them yet and I am not looking forward to them. But the truth of the matter is, we all need to get them! Early detection of breast cancer can determine your survival versus your demise. And mammogram happens to be the best screening tool we have currently according to the American Cancer Society.
Let’s chat about mammograms today. Some of my readers have already had them according to the poll I took yesterday. As for the rest of you… well it’s closer than you think.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women start getting yearly mammograms at the age of 40. This is just a recommendation and you can hold technically hold off until you are 50 if your Gyno allows you to, but doubtful, and I wouldn’t recommend it. Radiologist compare your previous mammogram to your current one, looking for changes in your breast tissue. So, we really need to get your baseline at a young age. If you wait until you’re 50 we could possibly miss some significant changes. And after 25 years of yearly mammograms, you can stop after age 75.
If you are at a high risk for breast cancer, your provider may ask to initiate mammograms before you are 40.
Mammograms use low dose x-rays to view your tissue. The metal plates flatten your breasts and spread the tissue apart so that we get a better view. Women between ages 40-74 screened with mammograms have been associated with a 15% – 20% reduction in dying from breast cancer. Early detection is so important!
If you are approaching 40, your Gynecologist has probably already let you know that you will be due for your mammo soon. Just mentally prepare to add this to your yearly grocery list. And prepare to be at the doctor’s office a lot longer… You may even just take the day off work for your annual pap smear and mammogram, and then take yourself out for a nice lunch afterwards because you earned it!
If you have any questions concerning mammograms ask your provider for more information. From your friendly neighborhood nurse.