The idea of getting a mammogram can often be unsettling.

“We try our best to make all women comfortable and answer any questions they have,” said Sonya Kella, MD, medical director of Women’s Imaging with Adventist HealthCare. “Helping you know your options and what is happening every step of the way allows you to make the most informed decisions about your health.”

Dr. Kella answers some common questions about this important health screening.

Q:  Why are mammograms important?

Dr. Kella: Mammograms are the most effective screening tool for detecting breast cancer early. Finding breast cancer early increases the chances of a complete cure.

Q:  When should I get a mammogram?

Dr. Kella: Most guidelines recommend that women, regardless of their risk level, start annual screening mammography at age 40. Based on your family history, personal medical history and breast density, additional screening options may be recommended by your physician.

Q:  How should I prepare for an exam?

Dr. Kella: On the day of your exam, it’s best to wear a two-piece outfit and limit jewelry. Do not wear deodorant, lotions or powders. If you have any concerns regarding your breast health before the exam, talk with your technician.

Q:  Are there different mammogram types?

Dr. Kella: 3D mammography, also known as tomosynthesis, is the newer, better mammogram compared with the traditional 2D mammogram. It’s more accurate and can increase cancer detection by 30 to 40 percent. A 3D mammogram takes the same amount of time and uses the same low level of radiation. 3D mammography is currently an optional replacement for a 2D mammogram, and coverage varies based on your insurance.

Q:  What will happen during the exam?

Dr. Kella: The total exam generally takes less than 20 minutes. Your technician will help guide you through the exam and will help position you so a complete view of your breast is captured. You may feel a slight discomfort, but the scan lasts only a few seconds.

Q:  What does my result mean?

Dr. Kella: Most mammogram results are normal, but if you do receive an abnormal result and need additional images, it does not mean you have breast cancer. Most abnormal screening mammograms result in a benign diagnosis.

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