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By doing a little research and asking the right questions, you can ensure you’re receiving a high-quality mammogram. The American Cancer Society recommends that you:

• Ask to see the FDA certificate that is issued at the center. The FDA requires that all facilities meet high professional standards of safety and quality.

• Use a facility that specializes in mammograms and does many mammograms a day.

• If you are satisfied with the quality, go to the same facility on a regular basis so your mammograms can be compared from year to year.

Isn’t The Radiation Dangerous?

With modern mammography machines, the high-quality images produce a low amount of radiation. “Strict guidelines are in place to ensure that the equipment uses the lowest dose of radiation possible,” says Dr. Gregory. “The doses are very small and tightly regulated by the FDA.”

My Self-Exams and Annual Checkups Are Enough For Me

Mammography can typically spot lesions one-fifth the size of those that can be felt by hand during self-examination or clinical breast examination by a healthcare professional. For example, an experienced examiner can feel a lump the size of a small pea. Mammography can find a lump the size of a grain of rice. Overall, mammography can pick up about 40% of cancers that are too small to detect by touch on clinical examination.

My Doctor Did Not Recommend a Mammogram

In most studies, they have found that the reason women most frequently give for not having a mammogram would be whether their primary health care doctor suggested it. If your doctor does not suggest mammography and you are in the correct age group and if you have some risk factors, it will be up to you to raise the issue.

I Am Too Young For a Mammogram

Although in screening programmes, the age of 40 or 50 is always mentioned, any person who has signs or symptoms suggestive of breast cancer needs appropriate evaluation, regardless of age. Even males with suspected breast cancer undergo mammograms. In addition, if breast cancer runs in your family and tends to occur early, you may need a different recommendation for mammography. Always consult your doctor or a radiologist.

Why Have a Mammogram When It Is Not 100% Accurate?

No test in medicine is 100% accurate. However, all results are interpreted with their limitations and limits of accuracy in mind. For example, the ECG (electrocardiogram) done for a patient with chest pain may be normal (rarely so) even if the patient is suffering from a heart attack. An exercise stress test for the heart may only pick up about 70% of those with narrowing (stenosis) of the heart blood vessels of more than half its diameter.

Remember that most African American women should have their first baseline mammogram at age 35. Talk to your doctor to get the help and information that you need that’s right for you.

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The Truth Behind Mammography Myths  was originally published on

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