If I Do Self-Exams, Do I Need a Mammogram?


Our self-care routines may not always be perfect, but we strive to do our best by scheduling our annual exam, applying sunscreen, eating well (with a few treat yourself days in between, of course), doing a face mask or two, and looking after our health. Staying informed on our personal healthcare guides our routine and keeps us in the know on when to plan for our next appointment.

Mammograms are an important part of women’s health and wellness. Preventative care is the best way to practice self-care. For many ladies, the prospect of yet another screening alongside their well-woman visits may seem like a hassle. After all, if self-exams are done regularly, does one really need a mammogram? When should women begin getting mammograms as a preventative measure to detect early signs of breast cancer? How often should these exams occur and what can one expect during a mammogram?

Take a deep breath and relax. The Woman’s Clinic has put together a simple guide to breast cancer screenings with quick facts and answers every woman should know. Take a look at commonly asked questions before visiting our Breast Center.

What is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is a relatively simple procedure that involves taking an X-ray of the breasts. This process is quick, efficient, and the best means of detecting early-stage breast cancer. 3D mammography allows your doctor to see an X-ray view of the breast so that they can identify any abnormalities that may warrant further evaluation. 

During the mammogram process, an X-ray technician will place the breasts on a plastic plate while another plate firmly presses down to capture the 3D mammography image. This process is repeated from all angles to ensure a full and accurate image is captured. 

Do I Still Need a Mammogram if I Do Self-Exams?

Self-exams are great as an extra means of prevention. However, a self-exam or an external exam at your doctor’s office does not replace a mammogram. 3D mammography detects signs of breast cancer before it can be felt — sometimes as early as three years prior! Other factors, such as dense breast tissue, can make it even more difficult to feel signs of breast cancer with a self-exam. 

X-ray technology allows doctors to take a closer look and identify any causes for concern while empowering women to take control of their health and feel confident in their personal wellness.

When Should I Start Getting Mammograms as Part of My Annual Exam?

Breast cancer prevention is a wellness routine women of all ages should stay informed on. Women under forty with no family history of breast cancer or other factors that may predispose them to an increased risk of breast cancer can get by with self-exams and external screenings at their annual exam. Women between the ages of 45 to 54 should begin mammogram screenings. 

When it comes to how often women should get mammograms, a good rule of thumb is that women in their mid-forties and fifties should receive a breast cancer screening every year. Consider a mammogram part of your standard well-woman visit. Women older than 55-60, may consider getting a mammogram every two years at their doctor’s discretion.

Factors that may influence how often you should get a mammogram include family history, presence of deep breast tissue, and whether or not you’ve had any abnormal breast cancer screenings in the past.

Does a Mammogram Hurt?

All women are different when it comes to our bodies and level of discomfort. While a mammogram isn’t the most comfortable procedure in the entire world, our caring technicians can make the process a little smoother for you. Most women experience pressure during their exams, while some report pain and sensitivity. The best part of a mammogram is how short the process is. TWC’s efficient X-ray technicians are here to quickly get you through your breast cancer screening with minimal hassle and as little discomfort as possible.

If you’re nervous about the pain of a mammogram, there are a few tips that can help. Ask your doctor to schedule your mammogram after your period. Your breasts are likely to be tender and extra sensitive the week prior to and during your cycle. Consider taking an over-the-counter painkiller such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen an hour prior to your procedure. Avoid caffeine in the morning as this can also lead to tenderness in the breast area.

During the procedure, practice taking calming breaths. Wear a comfortable bralette or padded sports bra and treat yourself to a warm, relaxing bath when you get home. Remember; a mammogram is only about 15-20 minutes of discomfort, while the results can potentially save your life.

What Happens if I Have an Abnormal Test Result?

There’s no need to be anxious while awaiting your mammogram results. Most mammograms come back perfectly normal, while others may indicate that further information is needed. Remember, knowledge is on your side when it comes to taking charge of your health, and the more information your doctor has the better.

Many factors contribute to an abnormal mammogram test, from hormonal fluctuations to a benign cyst. An abnormal test result does not mean that you have breast cancer. It simply means your doctor has found something they’d like to take a closer look at. An ultrasound or biopsy may follow as the next steps in assessing whether the abnormality is cause for concern. This will give your doctor more information on how to approach your healthcare moving forward.

Where Can I Get a Mammogram Done? The Women’s Clinic in Jackson Mississippi 

Your women’s healthcare provider can schedule your mammogram appointment. A trusted team of women’s healthcare experts will walk you through the procedure, answer any lingering questions, and have your results back to you in a few weeks.

Prioritize your personal care at The Women’s Clinic. If you’re in need of a breast cancer screening, don’t put off going. 3D mammography is a wonderful tool in the hands of healthcare providers to stay informed and empower patients in their wellness journey. Contact our team today to get started with scheduling your mammogram at The Breast Center.

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