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Mammograms Facts and Myths

Mammograms Facts and Myths

Posted: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 8:01 pm

Myth: Mammograms cause breast cancer.
Fact:    The breast receives the equivalent amount of radiation used during a dental x-ray, according to the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates mammography machines.
Myth: A mammogram is very painful.
Fact:    Most women do not experience pain during a mammogram, only slight discomfort because of the compression of the breast tissue.
However, scheduling your mammogram about one week after your period, reducing your caffeine intake, and taking an over-the-counter pain medication prior to the exam can help.
Also, each “picture” of your breast doesn’t take very long, so any discomfort is temporary.
Myth:  If there’s no history of breast cancer in my family, I don’t need to worry about getting a mammogram.
Fact:    More than 80 percent of breast cancers are diagnosed in women with no family history,
and only 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers are hereditary.
Myth: My doctor didn’t tell me to get a mammogram, so I don’t need one.
Fact:    Today, most doctors tell women to begin having mammograms every year starting
at age 40.
But if you have a family member who has had breast cancer, or you have had suspicious symptoms such as pain or a lump, and you are under age 40, talk with your doctor about when you should begin getting annual mammograms.
Myth: A lump in your breast means you have breast cancer.
Fact:    Eighty percent of breast lumps are actually benign (i.e., non-cancerous). A breast lump may be a cyst, a non-cancerous growth known as a fibroadenoma, or simple hormonal changes that are affecting the consistency of the breast tissue.
It’s important to see your doctor promptly, though, for diagnosis.
Myth: Women with large breasts (or small breasts) are more likely to get breast cancer.
Fact:    The size of a woman’s breasts has nothing to do with her risk level for breast cancer.
Myth: A primary symptom of breast cancer is a lump you can feel.
Fact:    Often, cancer appears on a mammogram long before a lump develops. Most cancers are detected on screening mammograms, which is why an annual mammogram is so important.

WCP 10.04.11

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