Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women and, as with all cancers, early detection is vital to the successful treatment of breast cancer. In fact, the five-year survival rates for Stage 0 (non-invasive) and Stage 1 breast cancer are 100 percent. Sarah Cannon at Presbyterian/ St. Luke's Medical Center in Denver is dedicated to early detection through regular screenings.
What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is a digital x-ray of your breasts that helps screen for and detect the presence of cancer. Radiologists are able to look at the test results and determine if there is anything abnormal in the breast. If something abnormal is found, a follow-up appointment is scheduled for further analysis.
Presbyterian/St. Luke’s performs digital mammograms, a highly accurate type of mammography that is better at detecting cancer in women under 50, women with dense breast tissue and women who are perimenopausal versus film mammography.
Digital mammography offers other advantages as well – this technology saves time by producing images that are immediately available on a computer monitor, and it allows technologists and radiologists to enhance and manipulate the images, giving them the most accurate and clear information possible.
When should I get a mammogram?
All women should go for a breast cancer screening regularly. The following are recommendations based on age.
Women who have a family history of breast cancer or otherwise are at increased risk should discuss necessary screenings with their physicians.
What to expect during a mammogram
- If you have sensitive breasts, schedule during a time you expect your breasts to be least tender (perhaps avoiding the time around your period).
- The exam takes anywhere from 10-30 minutes
- Wear an outfit that allows you to remove only the top.
- Avoid lotion, deodorant and powder on your underarms and breasts as they can interfere with the reading.
- You may feel a little pressure during the procedure but otherwise it is painless
- Be prepared to discuss previous mammograms and breast health history.
- Bring your referring physician's contact information and your insurance card.