Many women are unsure of when they should start getting regular breast cancer screenings, aka mammograms. The general rule of thumb is to start getting yearly mammograms at the age of 40. However, there are some circumstances in which you may need to start getting mammogram screening sooner.
Here are some signs that you should get a breast screening mammogram:
- You notice any changes in your breasts, such as lumps, dimpling, redness, or discharge
- Your breasts become unusually large or tender
- Your nipples begin to turn inward or leak fluid other than milk
- You experience persistent pain in either breast that does not fluctuate with your menstrual cycle
- You have a strong family history of breast cancer (i.e., mother, sister, aunt)
What to expect during the mammogram breast screening process
- You will be asked to undress from the waist up and given a gown to wear.
- You will be asked to position yourself on the mammography machine.
- Your breast will be compressed between two plates.
- The X-ray will be taken of your breast.
- You will be asked to wait while the radiologist checks the X-ray for any abnormalities.
Tips to get the right results from the mammogram breast screening process
- Book your appointment for the week after your period if you have one. Your breasts will be less tender and more likely to give clear results.
- Do not wear deodorant, lotion, or powder on the day of your mammogram, as this can interfere with the X-ray.
- Tell the technologist if you have had any breast changes or surgeries, as this can affect how your breast is positioned during the mammogram.
- If you have large breasts, you may be asked to get a specialized mammogram called a tomosynthesis. This type of mammogram takes multiple X-rays at different angles to get a more detailed view of the breast tissue.
- Be prepared to have more than one mammogram.
If you experience any of these signs or symptoms, it’s important to consult with your doctor right away for an evaluation. Even if it turns out to be nothing serious, it’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your health.
In conclusion, you should start getting yearly mammograms at the age of 40. However, if you experience any changes in your breasts, it’s important to consult with a doctor right away for an evaluation. Early detection is key when it comes to breast cancer, so don’t hesitate to get checked out if something doesn’t feel right.