Mammograms are low-dose x-rays of the breast. Regular mammograms can help find breast cancer at an early stage, when treatment is most likely to be successful. A mammogram can often find breast changes that could be cancer years before physical symptoms develop. Results from many decades of research clearly show that women who have regular mammograms are more likely to have breast cancer found earlier, are less likely to need aggressive treatments like surgery to remove the entire breast (mastectomy) and chemotherapy, and are more likely to be cured.
Mammograms are not perfect. They miss some breast cancers. And if something is found on a screening mammogram, a woman will likely need other tests (such as more mammograms or a breast ultrasound) to find out if it is cancer. There’s also a small chance of being diagnosed with a cancer that never would have caused any problems had it not been found during screening. (This is called overdiagnosis.) It's important that women getting mammograms know what to expect and understand the benefits and limitations of screening.
2D vs 3D Mammograms
In recent years, a newer type of mammogram called digital breast tomosynthesis(commonly known as three-dimensional [3D] mammography) has become much more common, although it’s not available in all breast imaging centers.
Many studies have found that 3D mammography appears to lower the chance of being called back after screening for follow-up testing. It also appears to find more breast cancers, and several studies have shown it can be helpful in women with more dense breasts. A large study is now in progress to better compare outcomes between 3D mammograms and standard (2D) mammograms.
It should be noted that 3D mammograms often cost more than 2D mammograms, and this added cost may not be covered by insurance.
When do I need a Mammogram?
A Mammogram is an X-ray taken of the breast to screen for changes suspicious for cancer. The images can help detect breast cancer at an earlier stage if done at recommended intervals individually based on individual & familial risk.
Or when something literally doesnt FEEL "right" and your provider agrees more imaging is needed.
Why? Who, me?
These guidelines are for women at average risk for breast cancer. For screening purposes, a woman is considered to be at average risk if she doesn’t have a personal history of breast cancer, a strong family history of breast cancer, or a genetic mutation known to increase risk of breast cancer (such as in a BRCA gene), and has not had chest radiation therapy before the age of 30. (See below for guidelines for women at high risk.)
*Clinical breast exams are not recommended for breast cancer screening among average-risk women at any age.
Women between 40 and 44:
have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year.
Local Resources for Imaging:
*Please check your health insurance to ensure any outside facility is "IN NETWORK" "PREFERRED PROVIDER" to avoid any unnecessary costs.*
Mayo Clinic: Breast Cancer
American Cancer Society Recommendations for the Early Detection of Breast Cancer
PRMA Breast Reconstruction Info & Scheduling