Mammograms are an important health screening to detect signs of breast cancer that you might not notice during your monthly at-home check. Judith Gurdian, MD, Michelle Spector, MD, Tanya Ghatan, MD, and the rest of the team at Capital Women’s Care in Rockville, Maryland, offer mammogram screenings to help catch and diagnose breast cancer early, when treatment is often easier and more successful. If you’re due for a mammogram, call or schedule an appointment online today.
Mammograms are X-rays of your breast. The images created allow your doctor and radiologist to check for abnormal breast tissue.
There are two basic types of mammogram. A typical screening mammogram is for women who aren’t showing any other signs or symptoms of breast cancer and creates images of the inside of your breast from two angles.
Diagnostic mammograms are used if you’ve noticed a change in your breast or have felt a lump. Diagnostic mammograms take images from several angles to create more detailed images of the inside of your breast.
Mammograms reveal abnormal tissue that can’t be felt or seen from the outside of the breast. While the test doesn’t show if abnormal tissue is cancerous, it can help your doctor decide if further testing, like a biopsy, is needed.
Most women should start to have annual mammograms when they turn 45 years old. If you have a family history of breast cancer or if you’ve had breast cancer yourself, you can start to have annual screenings earlier. Most women reduce the frequency of their mammograms to once every other year after their 55th birthday.
If you’re a new patient at Capital Women’s Care, take your mammogram records with you so your doctor can compare the older images with the new mammogram images. You should also make sure to tell your doctor about your breast cancer history and any changes or issues you’ve experienced.
You may be more comfortable wearing a top with a skirt or pants so you only have to remove your shirt. Also, don’t wear antiperspirant or deodorant as either can show up as white spots on the mammogram.
During your mammogram, you undress to the waist. You stand at the machine, and your technician arranges your breast on the imaging plate. Your breasts need to be flattened to take the mammogram, so the technician lowers the clear plastic upper plate to compress your breast. The compression only lasts a few seconds while the images are being created with low-dose X-rays.
The whole mammogram process should take about 20 minutes. Mammograms aren’t painful, although some women say the compression can be uncomfortable.
If you’re due for a mammogram, or are in your mid-40s and haven’t had one before, call or schedule an appointment online today.