Mercy Regional Health Center
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Mammography

What is a mammogram?
What are the different types of mammography?
What happens during the exam?
What are the symptoms of breast disease?
What increases the risk of breast disease?
How can I fight breast disease?
Why are mammograms important? 
 
 
What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is a safe, low-dose x-ray of the breast. It is the best method for early detection of breast cancer. Mammograms can detect breast cancer long before symptoms appear.

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What are the different types of mammography?
Screening mammograms are routine exams done on women who do not have any breast disease symptoms.
 
Diagnostic mammograms are ordered by a physician and performed on patients who have clinical symptoms, or when the screening mammogram has shown an abnormality.

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What happens during the exam?
Screening mammography involves x-rays of each breast, one taken from the top and one from the side. During the exam, the breast is compressed between two plates for a few seconds. The compression smoothes the breast tissue out to reducing wrinkling, and decreases the amount of radiation given to the breast. The technologist will take great care to make you as comfortable as possible.
 
A diagnostic mammogram exam is similar to a screening mammogram exam, with more x-rays taken to get additional information.

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What are the symptoms of breast disease?

  •  A lump or thickening
  •  Swelling or redness
  •  Nipple discharge
  •  Breast pain
  •  Newly inverted nipple
  •  Scaly appearance to the nipple
  •  Dimpling or puckering of the skin

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What increases the risk of breast disease?

  •  Age (risk of breast cancer increases with age)
  •  Personal and/or family history of breast cancer
  •  Not having children or having first child after age 30
  •  Obesity
  •  Long menstrual history (periods started early and ended late in life)

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How can I fight breast disease?
You can improve your chances of detecting breast disease early and getting effective treatment by following these guidelines:

  •  Do a monthly breast self-exam (BSE).
  •  Have a clinical exam conducted by a healthcare professional each year.
  •  Have an annual mammogram starting at age 40.
  •  See your doctor immediately if you notice any symptoms of breast disease.
  •  Discuss your risk of breast disease with your doctor.

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Why are mammograms important?
Routine annual mammograms are necessary in detecting early breast cancer. It is also important that the radiologist compare the previous year's mammogram to this year's mammogram in order to detect any changes. So make sure that you bring your previous films with you.

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