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Myth Versus Fact: Mammograms and What to Know

Publication: Palestine Herald-Press
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Texas women. While breast cancer cannot be completely prevented, women can take precautionary steps to lower their risk.

Mammograms remain the most effective way to improve early detection of the disease. Steady declines in mortality among women since 1989 have been attributed to a combination of early detection and improvements in treatment. This screening tool helps women who may not have any signs, symptoms, or family history check for breast cancer. Additionally, mammograms can detect changes in a woman’s breast that could indicate cancer years before symptoms develop. It is important to consult with your physician about when to begin screenings and how often.

When it comes to mammograms, women often have many questions. Here are three common myths dispelled and the truth behind screenings for breast cancer.

Myth #1: I don’t have any symptoms of breast cancer or a family history, so I don’t need to worry about having an annual mammogram. 
Fact: Early detection for breast cancer is critical. Women who wait to have a mammogram until they detect symptoms of breast cancer may find that the cancer is more advanced. The American College of Radiology recommends annual screenings for all women over 40, regardless of symptoms or family history. About 85 percent of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer or not considered high risk.
 
Myth #2: I have breast implants so I can’t get a mammogram. 
Fact: Mammography is safe for women with breast implants. In fact, having breast implants should not prevent you from being able to get a mammogram. In a regular screening, X-ray pictures of each breast are taken, typically from two different angles. If you have implants, it may be necessary for a few more X-rays to be taken. When you schedule your appointment, please let your physician know that you have implants, as additional time may be required for your exam.
 
Myth #3: Mammograms are painful.
Fact: Some women skip regular mammograms because they are anxious or stressed about possible discomfort. It is important to compress the breasts for a few moments during a mammogram to guarantee a clear picture and detect any abnormalities. The compression may lead to temporary discomfort, however there is no lasting breast pain after a mammogram. Your breasts may be more sensitive right before or during your period, so consider scheduling your mammogram in the middle of your menstrual cycle.  
 
Texas Oncology encourages all women to advocate for their health with routine cancer screenings. Together, we can fight breast cancer.

For more information on breast cancer and mammograms, visit TexasOncology.com or Texas Breast Specialists at texasbreastspecialists.com.

This article appeared in the Palestine Herald-Press.

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