Mammography is the primary way breast cancer is diagnosed, and most women at some time in their lives will have a mammogram. The majority will undergo yearly screening. But for a medical test that’s so common, there are so many questions. How often should I have a mammogram? Is the radiation dose harmful? What does it mean if they ask me to come back in 6 months instead of a year? How do I know if I need a breast ultrasound or MRI? Should I worry if a biopsy is recommended?
Your family physician or gynecologist can answer some of these questions, but often not in detail because mammography is not a test they perform. Diagnostic radiologists, some of whom specialize in breast imaging, interpret mammograms and send a report of their findings to your doctor. The problem is, many women never even see a radiologist, much less get to talk to one.
There is an entire chapter in the book, Journey to Hope devoted to helping you understand mammography. You’ll find answers to the above questions as well as a thorough discussion of screening mammography guidelines. The information will help cut through the confusion that surrounds the subject, and help you make a reasonable decision about how often you should get a mammogram. It will also help you deal with an abnormal mammogram result or a biopsy if you need one. Understanding the mammographic process will in itself help calm your fears. The odds are always in your favor. Knowing this will help you navigate it more peacefully.