Well, we knew there was a day for everything. Breast Cancer Awareness Month has its special place in the year every October. And since 1993 when President Clinton signed the proclamation, mammograms have had their special place on the third Friday of October. Today is the 25th anniversary of his proclamation of National Mammography Day, a day meant to remind women to schedule their annual mammograms to help detect breast cancer early.
What Is A Mammogram?
A mammogram, also known as a digital mammography, is a low dose x-ray which captures a picture of the breast tissue. The breast is carefully positioned on a film cassette and gently compressed with a special paddle so that the maximum amount of tissue will appear in the image. This flattening also helps spread the tissue in dense parts of the breast more evenly so that a clearer picture of these areas can be obtained. It also helps doctors determine which changes are noncancerous (benign) and which are cancerous (malignant). Unlike the standard mammography, the digital mammography captures the images electronically and allows them to be viewed on a computer screen. Although the test is administered the same, the digital mammography enhances visibility by up to 300% making it more likely to see lumps and other abnormal changes that may be present in the breast tissue. Women should begin their first mammogram at age 35 (first mammogram is a baseline x-ray). If the results of this screening are normal, then begin annual mammograms at age 40.
How Do I Prepare For A Mammogram?
Do I Really Need to Do a Mammogram?
Although there has been confusion about whether the importance of cancer screenings have been overstated and the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) even recommended that women ages 40-49 no longer needed to undergo routine mammograms, it is our firm position and that of our founder breast surgeon Dr. Virginia Maurer that screenings can only give you knowledge and knowledge saves lives.