Everything You Should Know About Mammograms

A mammogram is a diagnostic tool that helps detect the early signs of breast cancer. But how often should you get one? And is that the only thing you can do to protect yourself from breast issues?

Dr. John Paul Roberts is an experienced OB/GYN who answers all your mammogram questions to put your mind at ease. Not only does he explain the procedure, he can also perform the test right in his office so you don’t have to go to a separate imaging center, making breast cancer screening extremely convenient.

Why do you need a mammogram?

A mammogram is a diagnostic study that can detect early signs of breast cancer. It’s basically an X-ray image of your breast that can detect even the smallest mass or cyst in your breast tissue.

Breast cancer is most treatable in the early stages, so getting regular mammograms is the key to staying healthy. If you’re at low to average risk, a common guideline is getting a screening mammogram every years starting at age 45.

However, if you have a strong family history of breast cancer, or you find a lump in your breast, screening may be recommended before the age of 40. The decision on when to start getting mammograms is really up to you and Dr. Roberts.

How is the test performed

For your mammogram, you’ll be taken into the room where the machine is located. Your breast is placed between two plates, to help flatten the tissue for a better image. The test is slightly uncomfortable, but shouldn’t be overly painful. Usually both breasts are screened during the same study, unless you’re having a diagnostic study done on a lump in only one breast. 

Once the mammogram images are captured, it doesn’t take long for Dr. Roberts to get the results. This helps put your mind at ease, and allows for faster treatment if there’s a problem. 

Common findings of a mammogram

Many women have a mammogram when they find a lump, but that’s not the only issue a mammogram can address. Because the X-ray takes a detailed image of your breast tissue, many other conditions can also be found.

Some of these conditions include:

Calcifications in your breast tissue can be the result of trauma or inflammation, while microcalcifications could be a sign of cancer. Sometimes, larger calcifications could be found as a result of your age or a noncancerous tumor known as a fibroadenoma. 

If there’s any question about the results of your mammogram, Dr. Roberts goes over the results with you and schedules any other testing that might need done. This may include an ultrasound of your breast or a biopsy of the questionable tissue. 

How to prepare

You don’t need to do much to prepare for a mammogram. You may want to wear a top that’s easy to put on and take off, as you’ll need to change into a gown from the waist up.

When you come in for your mammogram, don’t wear deodorant. Although that sounds kind of gross, it’s imperative for an accurate image of your breast tissue. Deodorant, perfumes, and powders can look like white specks on your mammogram image, which could lead to additional unnecessary testing.

When scheduling your mammogram, avoid the week right before your period, if you can. This is because during your menstrual cycle, your hormones cause your breast tissue to become tender and sometimes swollen. This can make a mammogram more uncomfortable than it needs to be. 

If you're in need of a mammogram, call our office in Plano, Texas, to make an appointment, or request one using our online booking tool.

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