Medical researchers have determined that a screening mammogram is the best method to identify signs of breast cancer early so there are better chances of defeating it. Because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the team at Serrano OB/GYN in San Antonio, Texas, recommends that all women talk with them about the best time to begin yearly mammogram screenings.
Here, Dr. Christopher Serrano dives deeper into the recommended mammogram guidelines and explains what you can expect when you come to us for your first breast cancer screening.
When should I begin having mammograms to detect breast cancer?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other leading medical authorities recommend that healthy women ages 50-74 with an average risk of breast cancer schedule a mammogram every two years. Many insurance companies cover a yearly mammogram.
A regularly scheduled mammogram allows Dr. Serrano and his team to monitor your breast health and detect any changes promptly.
If you have certain risk factors, such as a family history of breast cancer, Dr. Serrano may recommend that you begin scheduling breast cancer screenings earlier, typically around age 40. He may also recommend yearly mammograms to keep a closer watch on your breast health.
Dr. Serrano determines the best mammogram schedule for you based on your family medical history, personal medical history, and a physical exam. You can discuss this matter with him confidentially at your next OB/GYN or women’s health appointment.
What can I expect from a breast cancer screening?
Your personal breast cancer screening, or mammogram, is a type of diagnostic X-ray that can identify tumors deep within the breast tissue that a manual exam may miss. Doctors use mammograms to detect breast cancer as early as possible because an early diagnosis allows treatment to begin sooner and increases the chances of defeating the disease.
Here’s what to expect during your mammogram:
- You remove your clothing above the waist and don a gown
- You stand in front of a vertical X-ray machine while a technician positions one of your breasts between plates on the machine
- The machine obtains images of your breast as you stand still and hold your breath for a few seconds
- The technician generally takes a couple images of your breast and then repeats the process on the other breast
- Afterward, you remove the gown, get dressed, and you’re free to go
Mammograms don’t take long. Some patients report minor discomfort when the X-ray plates press against their breasts — but it lasts just seconds, and the screening isn’t invasive.
When will I receive the results of my mammogram?
Once the X-ray images are processed, Dr. Serrano reviews them closely and contacts you with the results.
- Normal: This means there are no findings of abnormal breast tissue; you can follow a normal screening schedule according to Dr. Serrano’s recommendations
- Abnormal: This can mean you need additional testing — for example, women with dense breast tissue may undergo an ultrasound to compare with the mammogram results
Dr. Serrano will discuss any unusual findings with you promptly and advise you of your next steps. This may include a breast tissue biopsy to test a sample for cancer. If cancer cells are detected, he refers you to a specialist for additional care.
Contact Serrano OB/GYN in San Antonio today to schedule your breast cancer screening. Because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, why not schedule your first mammogram now?