Breast cancer survival rates are at a steady increase with 89.7% of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer surviving five years or longer after treatment, according to the National Cancer Institute. You’ll increase your odds of survival by detecting cancer early and seeking treatment. One way to detect cancer early is by getting a mammogram every 1 to 2 years after the age of 50.
What is a Mammogram?
A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray of the breasts. The images from the screening allow your doctor to analyze tissue that may not be observed in a clinical breast exam or a self-exam. Women describe minimal discomfort when getting a mammogram and the process usually takes 20 minutes. Mammograms are typically digital, rather than film, which means the images can be darkened, lightened, and also enlarged. This means your provider has more tools to detect changes in the breast tissue. You’ll be asked to get a diagnostic mammogram if the provider finds an abnormality. A diagnostic mammogram requires a few more images than your routine mammogram. A mammogram itself is not enough for your provider to give a definitive cancer diagnosis. You’ll need a biopsy and further testing to confirm, but mammograms can help detect cancer early.
Are Breast Self-Exams Enough?
Breast self-exams in conjunction with regular mammograms and yearly physicals with your primary care physician will greatly increase your chance of early detection.
According to the American College of Radiology, “mammograms show changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or physician can feel them.” Still, if you commit to once-a-month self-exams you’ll be able to determine if something is out of the ordinary. Things to look for when performing your self-exam are:
- Puckering, dimpling, or bulging of the breasts
- A nipple that has changed position or is now inverted
- Soreness, redness, rash, or swelling
- Fluid coming from the nipple
Please visit BreastCancer.org for a step-by-step guide on how to perform your breast self-exam.
Contact Platte River Medical Clinic today at 303-659-7600 to schedule an appointment to get a referral for your mammogram. Click here to schedule online if this is your first appointment with us.