When should I get my first mammogram?
In honor of breast awareness month, I wanted to take a moment to talk about breast health and my experience with the dreaded mammograms!
I went to my doctor and asked when I should get a mammogram. To my surprise, she not only rolled her eyes, she acted like I was silly for asking and then said “when you’re 50.” In all fairness she was the meanest doctor I’ve ever had and she was a gynecologist which made me feel super vulnerable. So because she was making me feel like the size of an ant, I kept my mouth shout and promised myself I’d spend some time researching mammograms when I got home.
Like many people, I have friends who have already gone through breast cancer and they aren’t much older than me (I’m 29). Which of course makes me nervous about you know… checking for breast cancer. I see it all the time during October, the “go get checked” posts.
So, let’s review what a little research says about getting checked for breast cancer. First of all, it seems like the general suggestion for “when” is 40. Though, if my friend just became a survivor from breast cancer and she started her fight at 35, why is it recommended to get a mammogram 40?
It’s also suggested that once you turn 45 you should go every year to get a mammogram until you’re 54. Though some say you should get a mammogram every year after your 45 for… well nearly for forever.
However it does seem like if you’ve had breast cancer in the family, you should start getting mammograms ten years earlier than when that family member was diagnosed. For example, if your mom found out at 45, then you should start getting mammograms at 35.
So what is a mammogram anyway?
A mammogram machine detects breast cancer early on by taking two different angles of x-ray pictures of each breast.
How long does it take? 30 minutes! Your breasts actually get compressed for about 20-30 seconds. This allows the breast tissue to spread and flatten. It reduces the amount of radiation needed to make an image.
Interesting fact: A lot of women get suspicious findings after their first mammogram. This is normally because your doctor doesn’t have a previous exam to compare it to.
Most of the time suspicious findings aren’t cancer. They are cysts, dense tissue or the result of an unclear image. You’ll want to take the results to your doctor to have them reviewed and you may need another mammogram to further evaluate your results.
Preparing for your mammogram and making it as comfortable as possible:
- If your breasts usually get tender during your menstrual cycle, schedule your mammogram a week after your menstrual period. Just so you’re more comfortable during the procedure.
- Wear a two-piece outfit. You’ll only have to remove your top, so this will make it a little more comfortable (though a gown will be provided).
- On the day of your appointment, you won’t be able to wear deodorant or lotion near your chest area. So, if you love deodorant like me, you might want an appointment earlier in the day.
- Bring your doctors name, address and phone number so the facility can send them your mammogram report to them directly.
How can you lower your Breast Cancer Risk?
That’s a hard question, since breast cancer can be caused by a lot of things… age, family history, and health habits. Though there are a few things that can help. For example, maintaining a healthy weight, exercise, and limiting alcohol.
No matter how scary it sounds, getting regular mammograms is an important step to living healthy and also living longer.
I’m ready to go get mine. Are you?
This content is strictly the opinion of S'moo and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither S'moo nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.