Where do I go to get my breast checked? A guide to breast cancer screenings
Getting routine breast cancer screenings is one of the most important things you can do for your health. But with so many options available, it can be confusing to know where to go to get a check-up. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about breast cancer screenings, including where to go to get checked.
Why is getting a breast cancer screening important?
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, with about 1 in 8 women being diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Early detection is key to successful treatment and survival rates. When breast cancer is detected early, the chances of successful treatment are much higher. In fact, the five-year survival rate for localized breast cancer is 99%. This is why routine breast cancer screenings are so important.
When should I start getting screened for breast cancer?
The American Cancer Society recommends that women with an average risk of breast cancer begin annual mammography screenings at age 45. Women between the ages of 40 and 44 should have the choice to start annual mammography screenings if they wish to do so. Women age 55 and older can switch to mammography screenings every two years or continue with annual screenings. However, women with a higher risk of breast cancer may need to start screenings at an earlier age.
Am I at higher risk for breast cancer?
Factors that may increase your risk for breast cancer include:
- A personal or family history of breast cancer.
- A genetic mutation, such as the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.
- Radiation therapy to the chest when you were younger.
- Hormone therapy after menopause.
- Being overweight, especially after menopause.
Where can I go to get a breast cancer screening?
There are several places you can go to get a breast cancer screening, including:
1. Your primary care physician
Your primary care physician can perform a clinical breast exam, which involves checking your breasts for any lumps or abnormalities. They can also discuss your risk factors and recommend the appropriate screenings for your individual needs.
2. Imaging centers and hospitals
Imaging centers and hospitals offer mammograms, which are the most common screening for breast cancer. During a mammogram, low-dose X-rays are used to create images of the breast tissue. 3D mammography is also available, which provides detailed images of the breast tissue.
3. Mobile mammography units
Mobile mammography units are RVs or buses that are equipped with mammography machines. They travel to different locations, making it easier for women to access mammograms in their own communities.
What happens during a mammogram?
During a mammogram, you will need to undress from the waist up and put on a gown. Each breast will be compressed between two plates, and X-ray images will be taken. The compression may be uncomfortable, but it is necessary to get clear images of the breast tissue. The entire process takes about 20 minutes.
Is there anything I can do to prepare for a mammogram?
Here are some tips to help you prepare for a mammogram:
- Schedule your mammogram for the week after your period.
- Don’t wear deodorant or antiperspirant on the day of your mammogram, as they can show up on the X-ray images.
- Dress in a comfortable two-piece outfit that is easy to remove from the waist up.
What other types of breast cancer screenings are available?
In addition to mammography, other types of breast cancer screenings include:
1. Breast MRI
A breast MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of the breast tissue. It is often used for women with a higher risk of breast cancer.
2. Breast ultrasound
A breast ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of the breast tissue. It can be used in conjunction with a mammogram to provide more detailed images.
Getting screened for breast cancer is a crucial part of maintaining your health. Talk to your primary care physician to determine the best plan of action for you. Remember, early detection is the key to successful treatment and a better quality of life.
- Q: How long does a mammogram take?
- Q: Does a mammogram hurt?
- Q: How often should I get a mammogram?
- Q: Should I still get a mammogram if I have no family history of breast cancer?
- Q: Does insurance cover the cost of mammograms?
A: A mammogram takes about 20 minutes.
A: The compression of the breast during a mammogram may feel uncomfortable, but it should not be painful.
A: Women with an average risk of breast cancer should get a mammogram every year beginning at age 45. Women with a higher risk of breast cancer may need to start screening at a younger age or have more frequent screenings.
A: Yes, most women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease. Getting regular mammograms is important for all women.
A: Many insurance plans cover the cost of mammograms. Check with your insurance provider to determine your coverage.
- American Cancer Society. (2021). Breast cancer early detection and diagnosis. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/breast-cancer-screening-guidelines.html
- Mayo Clinic. (2021). Breast cancer screening: What you need to know. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/breast-cancer-screening/about/pac-20393237
- National Breast Cancer Foundation. (2021). Types of breast cancer screenings. https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/types-of-breast-cancer-screenings