A Mammogram is Your First Line of Defense Against Breast Cancer

Although breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women over their lifetime, and advances in treatment have progressed impressively, there’s one test that remains the gold standard for finding breast cancer and other abnormalities: the mammogram.

As providers of obstetric and gynecological care for our community, the Lake Havasu OB/GYN Care team and Dr. Kevin Hooker are dedicated to seeing your health through a broad lens. We know that your breast health is a critical component of your overall health. 

Throughout your life, your breasts will change and provide nourishment to your children, should you choose to breastfeed. Whatever stage of life you’re in, we’re here to consult with you about how best to care for all of you, including your breasts. 

Why is a mammogram vital?

The mammogram is an X-ray of your breasts. It’s such an important screening because it enables your physician to catch any cancer in its earliest stage. 

When you get a mammogram yearly, your chances of getting a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible — thus improving your chances of survival — increase significantly. Amazingly, mammograms can detect breast cancer, as well as microcalcifications, which are precursors to breast cancer, well in advance of your being able to feel a palpable lump during a self-exam. 

Your first mammogram is known as a baseline mammogram, and is the one that all other screening results that come after it are compared to. 

This series of images over the course of years presents a unique picture of your breast health, reflects any changes that happen over time that your doctor can flag and watch, and even lower your chances of getting false-positive results (an instance where the results are said to indicate cancer, but in reality do not). 

Take advantage of advances in mammograms

With the advent of digital mammography, where your breast images are stored online, radiologists can enlarge, manipulate, and see images that are clearer and more highly detailed than before, when mammogram films were the product of a screening. 

3D mammograms, or tomosynthesis, combine pictures of your breast from different angles into a three-dimensional image, as opposed to a flat one. Again, the 3D image offers an enhanced, detailed picture of breast tissue, and is a particularly good screening tool for women with dense breasts (those whose tissue is composed of more glandular or fibrous tissue as opposed to fat).

Breast MRIs are often recommended if you’re at high risk for breast cancer or have had it before, while an ultrasound is used frequently as a tool when you get a biopsy. Although you may be recommended for a breast MRI or breast ultrasound in certain instances, the mammogram is still the best tool in the cancer prevention arsenal for routine preventive screening.

Mammograms important for well-woman care

Since everyone’s family history, lifestyle, and breasts are different, your yearly mammogram is an important part of taking great care of yourself. When you visit us for your well-woman exam, Dr. Hooker always performs a manual breast exam.

Depending on what he feels, your age, and other factors, he might recommend you have a mammogram, even if you’re under 40. 

There has been debate about the recommended age when women should get their first mammogram: the American Cancer Society advises women at average risk to get their baseline mammogram at age 45, while the Mayo Clinic recommends age 40. Dr. Hooker discusses this with you when you visit, after taking into account multiple factors. 

Although your idea of a good time might not be getting your breasts pressed between two glass plates, the momentary discomfort is worth it for the peace of mind you get, and the earliest diagnosis possible, if there is a problem.

Talk to your doctor about whether you need a mammogram

Dr. Hooker makes sure to discuss your need for a mammogram when you see him, and whether he recommends one depends on multiple factors. Get informed and advised today by calling our office to schedule an appointment or booking one online.

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