April 3, 2000 (Chantilly, Va.) -- If ever there were a case for strength in numbers, mammography may be it, say breast cancer experts.
Women seeking mammograms can find the highest quality screenings from radiologists and doctors who have years of experience performing and reading mammograms on a daily basis. Also, those organizations that meet high professional standards of safety and quality should display a Food and Drug Administration certificate.
Cancer didn't catch Christina Applegate unprepared. Because her mother had battled both breast cancer and ovarian cancer, Applegate had been going for regular mammograms since the age of 30. "But when I turned 36, my doctor said that my breasts were just too dense for mammography alone, and he referred me for screening MRIs at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center," she recalls.
Just a few months before she learned she herself had breast cancer, the actor got a shocking insight into the struggles faced...
"I think it is important that women know that they are at a certified mammogram center, so they know that the machines are evaluated on an annual basis,'' says Barbara Brenner, Executive Director of Breast Cancer Action, a San Francisco-based advocacy group.
"And we always tell women under 50 that when they decide to have their first mammogram, they should schedule time right after the screening to sit down and ask questions. They should go to a place that will show them the pictures and answer questions about what can and cannot be seen.''
According to the American Cancer Society, women should go to the same facility every year, if possible, so that new and old mammograms can be compared. The society also recommends that women take copies of their mammograms with them if they move, so that doctors at their new facility can do the same.
Michael D. Towle writes regularly for WebMD on health and legal issues.