Protect your health with regular mammogramsOctober 12, 2022
Taking time for routine mammograms is an important part of staying healthy. One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, and while mammograms can’t prevent or cure cancer, they’re the best tool to find it early, when it’s easier to treat. These simple screenings are about putting yourself first, so you can be there for the ones you love.
Women of any race or ethnicity can get breast cancer, and it affects some groups differently than others.
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What is a mammogram?
Mammograms are X-rays of your breast. Doctors can check those X-rays for signs of breast cancer, sometimes up to three years before there are any symptoms. As with other cancers, it’s best to find it early, when there are more treatment options.
How often should I have mammograms?
It’s important to have regular mammograms, even if you don’t have any family history of breast cancer, feel healthy, or have had clear mammograms in the past. In fact, nearly 90% of women diagnosed with breast cancer don’t have a family history of it. Additionally, the chance of developing it increases as you age.
You should talk to your doctor about what’s right for you, but most women should begin having mammograms every one to two years starting at age 40. Once you turn 50, you should have a mammogram every year. Between mammograms, you should also perform breast self-exams to feel for lumps or changes about once a month. They’re easy to do in just a few minutes at home.
What should I expect when I get a mammogram?
A mammogram only takes about 10 to 15 minutes. During the screening, a technician will take pictures of your breasts with an X-ray machine. It’s a safe, simple procedure. They will send the images to a radiologist (a doctor who specializes in reviewing X-rays), so they won’t be able to tell you anything about your results during your visit. Radiologists will typically report results to you and your doctor within a few weeks.
What do my mammogram results mean?
The radiologist will check your X-rays for anything out of the ordinary and compare it with previous X-rays to look for changes in your breasts. Abnormal mammogram results don’t necessarily mean there is cancer. There are many harmless causes of abnormal mammograms, such as dense breasts, minor cysts, or X-rays that were simply hard to read. If the results are abnormal, your doctor will likely ask you to come back in for more tests. You and your doctor will develop a treatment plan if more testing does find cancer. There are many options for treating breast cancer, especially when it’s found in early stages.
How can I lower my risk of breast cancer?
There’s no sure way to prevent breast cancer. Many risk factors are out of your control, such as getting older and a family history of cancer. In addition to regular mammograms, you can reduce your risk of breast cancer by staying healthy in these ways:
Make your health a priority
If you’re due for a mammogram, take the time to protect your health and schedule an appointment today. If you need to find a mammography center in your plan’s network near you, the Find Care feature in the SydneySM Health app or at unicaremass.com can help.
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