Scheduling regular mammograms is the most reliable and proven method to identifying breast cancer. Early detection of breast cancer is the most effective means of increasing your chances of surviving breast cancer.
While mammograms cannot detect every type of cancer, this screening is the best way to find and detect breast cancer at an early stage. Early detection is critical in increasing your or your loved ones’ chances of surviving breast cancer, so be sure to schedule your yearly mammogram today.
The American Cancer Society recommends that all women age 40 or over should schedule at least one mammogram per year, regardless of familial history or other risk factors for breast cancer.
“People at high risk for breast cancer may need more regular screenings than the yearly recommendations,” said Dr. Valery Petrosian, an OB/GYN with Northwell Health Physician Partners/Westchester Health. “We also recommend that all women perform regular self-examinations to take notice of any changes in their breasts.”
Early detection of localized breast cancer comes with a survival rate over 95%. However, once breast cancer metastasizes, the five-year survival rate can drop to below 30%.
Mammograms work by using low-dose x-rays to capture multiple images of the breast over a wide variety of angles. Mammography machines are specially designed to ensure only the breast is exposed to the x-rays. Attached to the mammography unit is a device that will hold the breast into different positions so the images can be taken at different angles.
Whether you are getting your first mammogram or are used to the process, it’s important to be prepared for the procedure. Don’t wear any deodorant or antiperspirant on the day you receive your mammogram, as they could appear as white spots on the x-ray. Be sure to communicate with your technologist if you have any medical or family history of breast cancer, or if you are breastfeeding or believe you may be pregnant. As you will only need to remove your top and bra during the procedure, it’s recommended you wear a skirt or pants.
While the imaging process does expose the breast to minimal amounts of radiation, the devices use low doses of x-rays and physicians universally agree that the benefits of mammography outweigh any harm that could arise from the radiation exposure. For perspective, the doses of radiation from a mammogram are actually less than the increase in cosmic radiation received by living at high altitudes, such as living in Denver.
Abnormalities found on a mammography scan do not necessarily mean cancer is present. Any abnormalities or irregularities seen will be used to refer you to a follow-up that may include a breast ultrasound or a biopsy for further assessment.
“We treat all of our patients as individuals–reviewing their unique medical history, circumstances, and symptoms case by case–before providing any further referral assessments,” Dr. Petrosian said.
If you or a loved one would like to schedule a mammogram, or speak with our testing specialists for more information about the screening, contact Dr. Petrosian here or visit the Westchester Health Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at https://www.westchesterhealth.com/obstetrics-and-gynecology.
By Valery Petrosian, MD, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Northwell Health Physician Partners/Westchester Health