Mammograms are an effective screening tool for detecting breast cancer in its early stages, so you have more options for treatment.
Our medical team at Primary Care Walk-In Medical Clinic can refer you for a routine mammogram as part of your preventive health care plan to lower your risk for breast cancer and its long-term complications.
If you’re not sure when to start having mammograms or how often you need to have one, read on to learn more and what to expect at your first mammogram.
Guidelines for mammograms and other breast cancer screenings
In general, all women should start having annual mammograms starting at the age of 40. These yearly screenings should continue until you reach age 55, when you may need to only schedule a mammogram once every two years.
If you have a lump in your breast, a family history of breast cancer, or were diagnosed with other types of cancer, you may need to have a mammogram before the age of 40. After the age of 75, women typically won’t need further mammograms. However, you should make that decision together with your doctor.
In addition to your annual mammogram, you should also perform self-breast exams at home. You can do this by holding your arm up over your head and feeling around your breast and under your armpit for unusual lumps or other abnormalities that need diagnostic testing.
You should also examine your breasts and nipples regularly to note any changes in their shape or the color or texture of your skin. Be sure to tell our team at Primary Care Walk-In Medical Clinic as soon as you notice changes.
What to expect at your first mammogram
During your mammogram, a technician will take X-ray images of your breasts. You can expect to stand in front of the mammogram machine and the technician will position your breast on a plastic plate. The machine’s upper plate will lower down and compress your breast, so the X-ray technology can capture clear images of your inner breast tissue.
This process is repeated on one breast at a time until the technician has the images they need. A radiologist will review the images to determine if there are any abnormalities in your breasts. If so, you may need additional diagnostic testing.
Types of follow-up tests after a mammogram
For women who have dense breast tissue or suspicious areas of tissue, a follow-up ultrasound may need to be scheduled. During an ultrasound, a technician will use a handheld transducer to deliver soundwaves into your breast to create detailed images of tissues.
If the results of your ultrasound aren’t able to confirm or rule out cancer, you might need a biopsy procedure. A biopsy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure to remove a sample of breast tissue for further evaluation under a microscope.
If you need a referral for a mammogram or have concerns about changes in your breasts, don’t delay a consultation with the team at Primary Care Walk-In Medical Clinic online or by calling the office near you today. You can also visit the office as a walk-in.