Recommended Women Health Screenings: Mammogram from a Primary Care Provider
A mammogram is an X-ray used to examine the breast for breast cancer. Mammograms, along with frequent clinical exams and monthly breast self-checks, are critical in the early detection of breast cancer. While the prospect of undergoing the screening might make you feel uneasy, yearly mammograms are necessary for women above the age of 40. Breast cancer is the second most prevalent cancer among women in the United States, behind skin cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. Continue reading to learn more about mammograms from a primary care provider.
Types of mammograms
Screening mammography is one that the primary care provider prescribes as a routine test to look for cancer or abnormalities in the breasts. Patients will have numerous pictures of their breasts taken by a machine during the examination.
The doctor will prescribe diagnostic mammography if the patient has a lump or other breast cancer symptoms. Patients with breast implants will almost certainly require diagnostic mammography.
Diagnostic mammography is more thorough than screening mammograms. They usually need additional X-rays to get images of the breast from different angles. The radiologist can zoom in on specific areas of concern.
Who is a good candidate for a mammogram?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network suggest that women over the age of 40 have a mammography every one or two years. Regular screening should begin at the age of 45, according to the American Cancer Society. Patients with a personal or family history of breast cancer may be advised to start screenings sooner and more often or with other diagnostic technologies.
Getting ready for a mammogram
On the day of the mammography appointment, patients must follow specific instructions. Patients must avoid using body powders, deodorants, fragrances, ointments, or lotion on their breasts or underarms. Pregnant or nursing mothers need to inform the radiologist before the exam. They may not undergo mammography screening yet, but the primary care physician may recommend alternative screening techniques, such as an ultrasound if required.
What to expect during a mammogram
A technician will provide a smock or robe to wear after the patient undressed from the waist up and removed any jewelry. Then, they can stand or sit during image capture, depending on the testing facility.
A flat X-ray plate fits each breast. The breast will then be pressed down by a compressor, flattening the tissue. This gives a better view of the breast. Patients may have to hold their breath for each image. As a result, a small degree of pressure or pain sometimes occurs, although it is generally very temporary.
The primary care provider will examine the pictures as they are created throughout the procedure. If anything is unclear or requires more attention, they may request more images that provide alternative perspectives. This occurs regularly and is seen as normal.
Mammograms are completely safe, and the level of radiation exposure is low, like most x-rays. However, if a woman is pregnant and requires mammography urgently before her due date, she will usually wear a lead apron throughout the operation.
Mammogram images may aid in the detection of calcifications, or calcium deposits, in your breasts. The test may also detect cysts, which may appear and vanish throughout certain women's menstrual cycles, as well as any malignant or noncancerous tumors. The primary care provider will evaluate the images and determine the next steps, depending on their discovery.
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