Breast Cancer Screening May Detect Tumors That Self-Exams Can’t
Many women avoid scheduling a breast cancer screening because they aren’t sure what the screening entails or they are afraid that it may be painful. The truth is that mammograms are relatively quick, usually taking just a few minutes to complete. Some women report mild discomfort during a mammogram, but the procedure is not at all invasive and there is no preparation for it.
If you need more reasons to schedule your breast cancer screening, consider these:
Early detection often makes all the difference: If you have breast cancer, your chances of surviving improve if the tumor is discovered early. You also have more treatment options if your breast cancer is detected before it grows too large or begins to spread. Women whose cancer is detected early have a 93 percent survival rate in the first five years.
Mammograms find cancer before it’s felt: A tumor that is causing symptoms or that can be felt is larger than those that can only be detected by a mammogram. This means that mammograms are critical for early detection. If you only discover a tumor once its been felt in a self-exam or a physician exam, you may limit the types of treatment options you have and your cancer may have already spread.
What’s it like to get a mammogram? While every breast cancer screening may have some variations because of the specific practices of that medical group, they are generally a uniform process.
When you arrive, you will be asked to step into a changing room and undress from the waist up. The screening center will give you a hospital gown or a robe to wear. You’ll likely be provided with a locker for your belongings or a bag where you can place your clothing. You’ll then step into the technician’s room where the mammogram machine is. You’ll be guided to the right placement to take images of your breast from both horizontal and vertical angles.
Does it hurt? There is some pressure from the mammogram, but it should not be painful or cause any lasting discomfort. Even if you are a bit uncomfortable, you’ll appreciate knowing that the screening takes very little time. Some women say that they don’t experience any discomfort at all.
When will the results arrive? This depends on the practices of your own physician, but you should receive results relatively quickly. You might ask your doctor to give you their specific test results policy so you’ll know when you can expect to hear the results of your mammogram.
Breast cancer screening can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first screening or if you have a history of breast cancer in your family.
The YWCA of St. Joseph’s ENCOREplus program provides free breast cancer prevention information and resources to women. We also help women locate financial resources for mammograms and can even provide transportation on the day of the screening. To learn more about ENCOREplus, visit our YWCA of St. Joseph website.