Mammography is the practice of looking within the breasts via low-dose X-ray. It is generally done preventively in order to detect breast abnormalities, such as cancerous tumors, before they can be manually felt. This allows treatment to occur earlier, making the process easier and, in the case of cancer, more likely to be effective.
Although family history and personal risk of breast cancer may affect a patient’s specific recommendations, in general, Good Samaritan Hospital recommends that mammograms be performed every year, beginning at age 40. Women who have previously had cancer, who carry the genes that increase breast cancer susceptibility, or who have a combination of lifestyle-related risk factors should discuss mammography with their physicians—they may be asked to receive mammograms more frequently or at a younger age. Annual mammography becomes increasingly important after age 50, because the risk of developing breast cancer rises based on maturity.
If an abnormality is detected on a mammogram, the patient may need to undergo another mammogram, a breast ultrasound, a biopsy, or an MRI to determine the nature of the lump. Fortunately, the majority of anomalies uncovered by mammography are benign. Even if the issue turns out to be a cancerous tumor, treatment options are more varied and effective when the cancer is identified long before it manifests in noticeable symptoms, since it is likely to still be small and contained within the breast.
To schedule a mammogram or speak with a specialist about your personal recommendations for breast screening, call Good Samaritan Hospital at (888) 724-2362. Our BreastCare Center offers a variety of women’s health services, including screening and diagnostic mammography, breast ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging. We also provide medical and radiation oncology services for the treatment of any cancer that is detected.