October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and as a part of this month’s events, the Medical Imaging Department would like to answer your questions on breast health and screening.
If you have a question for the Medical Imaging Department, post it as a comment to this story–and feel free to remain “Anonymous”.
Questions and answers will be posted to this story as they come in.
“At what age should women start getting mammograms?”
The American Cancer Society recommends that screening mammograms begin at age 40, and self breast exams can begin as early as age 20. If however, there is a family member who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, or has the breast cancer gene, a baseline screening mammogram should be started 10 years prior to the age of when that family member was diagnosed. For example, if a sister or mother (or other) was diagnosed at age 42, then screening should begin at age 32. Always check with your physician if there are any concerns.
“What kind of problems show up on a mammogram?”
First, a baseline exam will give exactly that…a look at what is normal for each person individually. There are many variations to breast tissue, and then again to each age group. Normal findings can show fatty vs. dense tissue, internal structure, etc.. Abnormal, though not necessarily cancerous or benign, can show cysts, fibroadenomas, lesion, or masses. Further testing such as additional mammogram images to smooth out the tissue, or Ultrasound to look closer at cystic areas, or even MRI, can help the Radiologists to differentiate the areas in question.