10 Common Myths about Mammograms
Mammograms can help reduce the number of deaths because of breast cancer among women aged between 40 and 70, which is why doctors recommend performing this medical exam every 1-2 years, as a routine analysis that could make the difference between life and death.
Even so, many women perceive a mammogram as a bad experience because of several myths and misconceptions that arose regarding this medical examination.
1. Mammograms are painful
A significant number of women are reluctant to schedule a routine mammogram for fear of pain during the procedure. While experts admit that it is possible that patients feel some discomfort, pain sensations themselves are excluded. In addition, mammography does not last more than a few seconds, a very small price to pay for a long and happy life.
Moreover, medical experts remind women that they are in control while performing a mammogram and they can address medical staff anytime about repositioning to avoid possible discomfort.
2. A mammogram requires too much time
Another reason cited by some women who skip the annual mammography is the lack of time. In fact, a simple phone call to make an appointment and the 7-10 minutes the procedure takes does not justify time as an excuse.
3. Mammography is required only if there were cases of cancer in the family
This false idea about the need for a yearly mammogram after the age of 40 often leads to a situation in which breast cancer is detected in an advanced stage, so much more difficult to treat.
While heredity is considered a risk factor for breast cancer, medical statistics show that 85% of women who receive this diagnosis do not have a family history of similar cases. This means that screening is very important for all women, regardless of genetic predisposition.
4. Mammography is carried out only for older women
Young women believe that mammography is exclusively for medical examination of older women, because breast cancer is more common after 55. Unfortunately, the same serious disease occurs in younger women, so your doctor may recommend a mammogram at a much younger age.
5. Mammography is dangerous because of radiation
This common fear is rather unjustified, according to doctors and other specialists in the field. The amount of radiation to which a woman is exposed to during a mammogram is significantly lower than that which could come from a long distance plane trip.
6. Mammography can arouse unnecessary concern
Many women are afraid of the results they might get after a mammogram, potentially false, so they avoid this medical examination and prefer to live without knowing if their breast tissue is healthy or not. This reasoning is a dangerous one, from several points of view.
The rate of false results issued by a mammography is very small, and if there is doubt on the outcome, the procedure can be repeated. The chances of the outcome to be one dramatic for the patient are also very small, as long as 80% of detected tumors are found to be benign.
Moreover, mammography does not change in anything the female anatomy, it simply provides information about what already exists. And if a cancerous tumor is installed, every woman should want to find out from the beginning, before it is too late.
7. Mammography is useless in the absence of nodules detected by palpation
The absence of nodules on palpation of breasts is always good news, but it does not guarantee that there are no elements in breast tissue leading to cancer development. Mammograms can detect tumors formed with three years before they are sufficiently developed enough to be spotted by palpation. And when they are so small, they are 100% treatable.
8. Mammograms are irrelevant for large breasts
It is true that a dense breast tissue may compromise the results of a mammogram, but this medical examination is not entirely useless for women with very large breasts. If the mammogram results cannot be interpreted because of tissue density, an ultrasound or MRI could be useful for more detailed investigations.
9. Mammograms are necessary only for women with unhealthy lifestyles
Since an unhealthy lifestyle is considered a risk factor for breast cancer, many women believe that a balanced lifestyle prevents the danger of this illness. Doctors say that although compliance with a proper lifestyle reduces breast cancer risk, it does not eliminate it entirely. Therefore, a mammography remains recommended for all women, regardless of their lifestyle.
10. Mammograms involve nakedness, which is embarrassing
Another common concern of women who avoid having a mammogram is that they will be judged for their appearance by the technician assisting the procedure. What is important to remember is that people working in this field are trained professionals who have chosen this career with the desire to help patients maintain their health. The technician is 100% focused to obtain a proper compression of the breasts.