3 Mammogram Myths – Debunked
There are many misconceptions and myths around breast cancer and mammograms.
The Myth: “Mammograms cause cancer from all the radiation. I don’t want my body getting all that radiation and giving me cancer!”
The radiation you receive from a mammogram is minimal. It is equivalent to the amount you are exposed to as a result of a transatlantic flight. The amount is radiation is minimal when you weigh the benefits of mammograms versus the risks.
The benefits are less deaths, less surgery and less need for chemotherapy because of earlier detection and detection of pre-cancer, among others. The risks are radiation exposure, anxiety, inconvenience, false positives and false negatives.
The Myth: “I can’t get a mammogram because I am breastfeeding. I guess I will have to wait until after I am done.”
Although breast sensitivity is reduced because breast density increases with breastfeeding, mammograms are still recommended.
We save the most lives by not interrupting regular screening. The American College of Radiology’s new guidelines for pregnancy and lactation recommend continuing regular screening even if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
The Myth: “I don’t need a mammogram! No one in my family has ever had breast cancer. Plus, I check my breasts in the shower every month so I will know when something is up.”
Mammograms are recommended even if you don’t have a family history of breast cancer. Nearly 75 percent of women who develop breast cancer have no family history of the disease.
Further, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
You cannot rely solely on monthly breast self-exams. These monthly exams should be in addition to annual screening mammograms.
When we find cancers with a mammogram, they tend to be smaller and more treatable. The cancers that are felt are larger and can be more difficult to treat.