Fact or fiction? True or false? With the popularity of the internet and the constant changes taking place in medicine, it’s difficult to determine what’s true when it comes to your health. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Charlotte Radiology encourages you to take a closer look at your breast health and the TRUTH about early detection and breast cancer.
Myth: Mammograms are risky because they cause cancer.
Truth: ABSOLUTELY NOT! A mammogram is an approved, low-dose x-ray exam which does not create any significant risk of cancer. The radiation from a mammogram is comparable to the radiation you would receive on a cross-country plane flight. Annual screening mammography is the most effective way to find cancer early, well before a breast lump could be felt by physical examination. It is an important tool in detecting breast cancer at a stage when it is curable and more treatment options are available.
Myth: Finding a breast lump means you have breast cancer.
Truth: 80% of breast lumps are benign, or not cancerous. If you find a breast lump or notice changes in the breast tissue, it is very important that you visit your physician immediately. He or she may refer you for a diagnostic mammogram to confirm that everything is okay. Often, women avoid care because they fear what they might find. Take charge of your health – breast cancer is most curable, when found early.
Myth: If you don’t have family history, you won’t get breast cancer.
Truth: Most breast cancers occur in patients who do NOT have a family history. It is true that family history increases a woman’s risk, especially if she has close relatives who have had breast cancer before age 50 (pre-menopausal). But ALL women are at risk, so it is important to follow the guidelines for early detection: annual mammography starting at age 40, along with annual physical exams by our doctor and monthly self breast exams.
Myth: Digital mammography does not use compression.
Truth: Digital mammography uses the same process as traditional mammography, so breast compression must be used to obtain the best image possible for the radiologist to read. Breast compression helps obtain better x-rays by:
– Flattening the breast so that the maximum amount of tissue can be examined
– Allowing a lower x-ray dose to be used
– Holding the breast in place to prevent blurring caused by motion.
The main benefit of a digital mammogram is its improved clarity and the radiologists’ ability to manipulate and enhance the image, much like a digital photo. Most importantly, studies have shown that digital mammography is more accurate for women under 50, women who are peri-menopausal and all women with dense breast tissue.
Myth: Women need a referral from their physician for a screening mammogram.
Truth: Women DO NOT need a physician referral to schedule a screening mammogram. Scheduling is easy at www.charlotteradiology.com. However, if a woman finds a lump or has a concern, she should see her physician first. He or she may order a more comprehensive exam, called a diagnostic mammogram, which does require a referral.
There are many myths and misconceptions when it comes to breast cancer. The real TRUTH is that early detection is our best weapon against breast cancer. Many types of breast cancer are treatable and curable, but not preventable. The answer to early detection is regular self-examination, professional examination and annual mammography. Charlotte Radiology makes early detection and mammography easy, with 13 area breast centers (including 2 mobile breast centers) and online scheduling at www.charlotteradiology.com.
We wish all of the Susan G Komen walkers the best day ever! We’re Smarty proud of Y-O-U!