The Importance of Mammograms

October 21, 2016

Dr. Barry Rosenberg
United Memorial Medical Center

Did you know that Friday, October 21, is National Mammography Day? As a part of October serving as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, National Mammography Day is celebrated each October on the third Friday of the month. President Bill Clinton proclaimed the first National Mammography Day in 1993.

What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast.  Radiologists use mammograms to look for early signs of breast cancer.  The newest breakthrough in technology in mammographic imaging is 3D Tomosynthesis which is a series of 3D images that allows Radiologists to manipulate and examine each slice individually to improve breast cancer detection.

When should women start getting mammograms?
Overall, mammography is the most effective breast cancer screening tool used.  For screening mammograms for patients who are not at high risk of breast cancer mammograms can start at age 40.  Some providers choose to send their patients for a baseline mammogram at age 35 with follow up beginning at age 40.   For patients who are high risk of breast cancer, such as those with mother, sister or grandmother who had breast cancer, these patients may want to start mammogram screening even earlier.  These recommendations are for screening mammograms. Mammograms are still needed at almost any age if a lump is found.

How often should they get mammograms?
After the initial screening, women should continue with annual screening mammograms. The American College of Radiology stands firm on yearly mammograms starting at age 40, and every major group with expertise in breast cancer care agrees that annual mammography saves the most lives.

Once you start getting mammograms, do they need to get mammograms the rest of their life?
As long as a women is in good health there is no reason to discontinue annual mammographic screening.

For more information on mammography and other services offered at Rochester Regional Health, visit our website.

Topics: Breast Cancer