The American Cancer Society and other medical groups recommend that women with an average risk of breast cancer begin annual mammograms at age 40 and continue as long as the individual is in relatively good health. Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast examination as part of a routine physical, every three years. At 40 years of age and thereafter, clinical breast examination should be done annually.
Women with a family history of breast cancer should discuss screening options with their physician. However, many breast specialists are recommending that women with a strong family history of cancer begin annual screenings at an earlier age with a breast ultrasound or MRI in addition to regular mammograms. Breast self-examinations should be performed monthly starting at age 20.
There are two types of mammograms, screening and diagnostic. The type of mammogram that is best for you depends on your medical history and breast symptoms. Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital only utilizes state-of-the-art digital mammography. This means that the x-ray taken of the breast is captured by a computer. Studies show that digital mammography is better than conventional film mammography, particularly for women with dense breasts.
A screening mammogram is used to find breast cancer in women who have no personal history of breast cancer and have a normal clinical breast exam. The
screening consists of two to three x-rays of each breast
taken by a certified mammography technologist and
interpreted by breast radiologists.
A diagnostic mammogram is recommended for patients who have noticed an area of concern or suspicious change in the clinical examination of the breast, or have had an abnormal screening mammogram. If your doctor has noticed a change on your breast clinical exam, a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound will be ordered to clarify the finding and determine if a biopsy is needed.
The day of your mammogram you should make sure not to use any deodorant, powder, or lotion of any kind under your arms or on your breasts, as the chemicals from these products can interfere with the reading. It is important for the radiologist to compare your current mammogram with any previous studies. If you have had mammograms in another institution, please bring them with you at the time of your appointment or let us know at the time you schedule your appointment and we will help you obtain your prior films. Some
cancers are very hard to see in a single mammogram, and
may only become visible if the previous image is available for comparison.
The mammogram itself involves compression. If you have very sensitive breasts,
try to avoid scheduling your mammogram the week before your period because
that is the time during which breasts are most sensitive.
You should schedule your mammogram with the Breast Center at
Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital by calling 281-242-PINK (7465).