Breast Cancer and Mammograms
What Happens After a Mammogram?
After a mammogram, you may experience temporary skin discoloration or mild aching as a result of the compression in the breast area. You may take aspirin or ibuprofen to relieve the discomfort. Generally, you will be able to resume your usual activities immediately.
The results of your mammogram will be given to your doctor, who will discuss with you what the test results could mean and what further tests might be recommended.
All mammography facilities are now required to send your results by mail to you within 30 days. You will be contacted within five working days if there is a problem with your mammogram. If you do not hear about your test findings within 10 working days, don't assume your results are normal -- call your doctor to make sure.
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately one to two mammograms out of every 1,000 lead to a diagnosis of cancer. Approximately 10% of women will require additional mammography. Don't be alarmed if this happens to you. Only 8% to 10% of those women will need a biopsy, and 80% of those biopsies won't be cancer. Those odds may improve with more widespread use of three-dimensional mammography.
How Often Should I Have a Mammogram?
Your risk of breast cancer increases as you age. But there's disagreement among breast cancer experts regarding when you should have your first mammogram.
The American Cancer Society recommends yearly screening mammograms starting at age 40. However, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) does not recommend screening for women in their 40s. For women between the ages of 50 and 74, USPSTF experts say women should have mammograms every two years and they don't recommend screening at all after age 74.
Whether you need a mammogram is a personal decision between you and your doctor. If you're over age 40, talk to you doctor about when you should begin mammogram screening.
Mammograms are an important part of your health history. If you go to another health care provider or move, take the film (mammogram) with you.