What are the benefits of mammography screening?
Mammography screening refers to the routine practice of breast evaluation by an x-ray in women who have no apparent symptoms of breast cancer. Mammography screening seeks to detect breast cancer at early stages of development, resulting in more treatable options.
Is mammography reliable?
In 1992, the U.S. Congress passed the Mammography Quality Standards Act to ensure that mammography performed at more than 10,000 facilities throughout the country is of high quality and is reliable.
A certificate issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration must be displayed prominently at each facility in order to lawfully perform mammography. This certificate serves as evidence that the facility meets these standards.
At what age should mammography screening begin?
For most women, mammography screening should begin at age 40 and be repeated yearly.
Will Medicare pay for screening mammograms?
Effective January 1, 1998, Medicare will pay 80 percent of the allowed amount and waive the deductible amount for screening mammograms every year for patients over age 40.
What should women expect when they have a mammogram?
The mammogram should be scheduled when the breasts will be the least tender. Women are asked to wear two-piece clothing to make undressing more convenient.
You will be asked to undress from the waist up only and to remove any deodorant and/or powders from the breast area. The mammogram will be performed by a specially trained radiologic technologist.
You will stand next to the x-ray machine and two flat surfaces will then compress each breast individually for a few seconds. Compression is necessary to produce the best picture using the lowest amount of radiation possible. It may feel slightly uncomfortable.
What does “cancer risk” mean?
Cancer risk means the possibility of developing the disease. Individual, medical, environmental and genetic factors are known to increase a woman's chance of developing breast cancer. Every woman has some degree of risk for developing breast cancer simply because she is a woman. However, the risk is not the same for all women.
What are the known risk factors for breast cancer?
- Age: The risk of breast cancer increases as a woman gets older.
- Family history: The risk of getting breast cancer increases for a woman whose mother, sister, daughter or two or more close relatives, such as cousins, have had the disease.
- Personal history: Women who have had breast cancer may develop it again. Women with a history of breast disease (not cancer, but a condition that may predispose them to cancer) and women having so much dense breast tissue on a previous mammogram that a clear reading is difficult are also at increased risk.
- Other risk factors: Other risk factors include having a first child after age 30 or never having children. Current research is investigating the roles of obesity, hormone replacement therapy, diet and alcohol use.
Is mammography screening the only way to detect breast cancer?
Mammography remains the single most effective method to detect breast cancer early. However, no medical test is always 100 percent accurate, and mammography is no exception. Research is underway to improve the technology which will lead to better accuracy.