Addressing the Pre-Conceived Notions About Breast Cancer and Mammograms

By Scott Sarvay

June 21, 2012 Updated Jun 21, 2012 at 4:25 PM EST

Fort Wayne, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - The American Cancer Society reports that breast cancer kills roughly 40,000 women a year in the U.S.

There are a lot of pre-conceived notions about breast cancer. Some may be on target, while others are off base.

Breast cancer can affect your whole family because the disease isn’t something that only women have to worry about.

One thing that is settled is that a cancer diagnosis does not amount to a death sentence.

Clinical Nurse Specialist Nancy Ehmke says, “The fact is there are more than 10-million survivors out there of all types of cancer."

Breast implants are becoming more popular all the time, but do they boost the risk of getting breast cancer?

According to research, women with implants are at no greater risk, but standard mammograms don't always work as well on these women, so additional x-rays are sometimes needed to more fully examine their breast tissue.

And mammograms can't work if you don't get one. It can be scary and there are so many excuses we can manufacture in an attempt to avoid the test. The one we hear about most is that a mammogram hurts, but the reality is that it's not nearly as bad as we expect...and the peace of mind that comes with it...is worth it.

Guidelines for breast health seem to change a lot, especially when it comes to mammograms.

Recently, some insurance companies have revised their advice to say that most women don't need a yearly mammogram until the age of 50. Maureen Halstead, a technician who has been conducting mammograms for 26 years has a different opinion.

Unfortunately, we see too many breast cancers at age 40 and below and they're not necessarily due to family history. A lot of them have no family history whatsoever.

For many women exaggerated stories of what a mammogram feels like causes unnecessary procrastination.

Halstead says, “Most people are worried about the compression than anything else. They hear horror stories about it, they read the cartoons about a garage door smashing down on their breast. We do the compression. I've never heard anyone say that it was the worst feeling.

Once a radiologist takes a look at the pictures, additional views may be ordered. If there is a radiologist on site they can be taken right away. And most of the time a trouble spot turns out to be a harmless cyst. Sometimes, an ultrasound might be ordered again, sometimes that can even be done on the same day. If there is still a concern, a biopsy will be ordered and that will usually answer questions about the nature of the problem.

Every woman and man should understand that hormone fluctuations can cause pain and changes in the way breasts feel from day to day and month to month. And what can't bed stressed enough is that the most important thing is to know your own body.

“Key things I tell my patients is if you find something, “how does it feel? Is it something different than you've ever felt before? Do you have pain with it? Is there mobility...meaning if you grab hold of the nodule...can you move it with your fingers? Those are all good signs. Does this kind of come and go,” says Halstead.

Most of all don't let fear prevent you from coming in to get it checked, even girls as young as 16 can have ultrasounds.




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