Early detection of breast cancer can help save lives. Mammograms are one of the most effective screening tools and helps reduce deaths caused by breast cancer for women ages 40-70. Don’t put off your annual mammogram because of these 4 common myths.
Myth #1: Breast cancer doesn’t run in my family so I don’t need a mammogram every year.
The reality is about 85% of breast cancers occur in women that have no family history. Age and gender are the most significant risk factors for breast cancer. Other risk factors include lifestyle, smoking and personal history. Family history does increase your risk so it is important to discuss all your risk factors with your physician.
Myth #2: The radiation from mammograms is harmful and can cause cancer.
A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray picture of the breast. The amount of exposure is about the same as what you get from your natural surroundings over an average of two months. The benefits of mammograms and early detection outweigh the risks from the exposure to radiation.
Myth #3: Mammograms are painful.
Although pain tolerance is different for each person and the compression from a mammogram can cause some discomfort or pressure; it should not be painful for most women. The process only lasts a few seconds and the technologist can help make it a more positive experience.
Myth #4: I don’t need a mammogram until age 50.
Despite recent changes to breast screening guidelines, mammography screening saves lives and early detection is critical for improving breast cancer survival. The American College of Radiology, the Society of Breast Imaging and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology continue to recommend yearly screening mammograms starting at age 40 for women at average risk. Women at higher risk may need additional screening earlier of more frequently. Although mammograms have limitations such as false-positives and patient anxiety, they remain the best tool for detecting breast cancer early. It’s important for women to speak to their physician about when is the best time to begin screening. Discover your risk of breast cancer by taking our free online breast cancer risk assessment.