Mammography is the most widely used screening tool for breast cancer detection. As a member of the healthcare community, I know the importance of mammograms, so I promptly scheduled my screening mammogram after my 40th birthday.
In celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness month, I sent a group text to friends also celebrating their 40th in 2018. I was surprised that none of them was planning to schedule their screening mammogram.
As I started to inquire why I found that they had received conflicting information on when screening mammography should begin and had not discussed with their healthcare provider. The American College of Radiology recommends screening mammography annually starting at 40, and earlier if an immediate family member has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Women should be discussing family history and asking about screening mammography – we are our own best healthcare advocates.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says breast cancer is among the most common cancers among American women and getting regular mammograms can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer.
More than 240,000 women get breast cancer and more than 40,000 women die from the disease each year in the United States. While men also get breast cancer, they account for less than 1 percent of all cases.
The CDC cautions that most women who get breast cancer have no known risk factors and no history of the disease in their families.
While breast cancer screening can’t prevent breast cancer, it can help detect breast cancer in its early stages, when it’s easier to treat and provides a better outcome.
To make getting a mammogram more convenient, NHRMC does not require women ages 40 and older to have an order from their physician to schedule a screening mammogram. You do need to have a primary care provider or OB/GYN, however, to receive your results.
The day of your appointment a mammographer will review your family history and breast health.
A registered mammography technologist will explain the exam and perform it in a private mammography suite.
X-rays of your breasts will be taken from several angles. Compression is used to improve the quality of the images and lasts five to seven seconds. The entire process takes about 10 minutes.
A board-certified radiologist reviews and analyzes the images and compares to your previous mammograms. You will receive your results in the mail as well as from your provider.
NHRMC offers 3D Mammography at five convenient locations, late night and Saturday appointments.
The 3D mammogram is similar to a conventional mammogram but has been proven to be more accurate. A 3D mammogram captures multiple images or slices of the breast from several angles, creating a multi-layered image. The radiologist can then look at the breast tissue in thinner layers, helping to make a more accurate diagnosis. That helps reduce anxiety and false positives while detecting more invasive breast cancers. It is an improved exam for women that have high breast density.
To schedule a mammogram, call Centralized Scheduling at 910.667.8777. For more information about mammograms, visit https://www.nhrmc.org/3D-mammography.
Kim Sink works with New Hanover Regional Medical Center Health and Diagnostics.
Breast cancer symptoms can include
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast
- Pain in any area of the breast
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood)
- A new lump in the breast or underarm