Frequently Asked Questions About Mammography
Get answers to these commonly asked questions
How Often Should Women Have Breast Exams?
Women who do not have a family history of breast cancer or do not have any of the other risk factors should follow these guidelines:
- Women age 20 to 39 should have a clinical breast examination every three years and perform a monthly self-examination.
- Women age 40 and older should have an annual mammogram, annual clinical breast examination and perform a monthly self-examination.
- Any woman with a family history of breast cancer or any other risk factors should consult her physician regarding frequency of examinations.
Is Mammography Painful?
Not for most women. Some women find it uncomfortable because the breasts must be compressed for a few seconds to get an accurate reading on film. The imaging and radiology department helps make the mammography experience as comfortable as possible.
Who Interprets the Results of a Mammogram?
All mammograms are read by board-certified radiologists.
Does Mammography Pose Risks?
The benefits of mammography far outweigh any risk from radiation. Though X-rays were first used to detect breast cancer more than 70 years ago, specialized equipment developed over the past 30 years means that the amount of radiation required for mammography has been significantly reduced. Now, the radiation exposure from a mammogram is far less than for standard dental X-rays.
In fact, the American Cancer Society says that if a woman has an annual mammogram between the ages of 40 and 90, her total exposure to radiation will be less than she’d receive on a single coast-to-coast airline flight.
What Happens If My Mammogram Looks Suspicious?
Your doctor may recommend further testing which could consist of additional special views, ultrasonography or biopsy.