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Why does mammography hurt so much?
In order to get the best pictures and to minimize the amount of radiation delivered to your breasts, the breast tissue must be compressed as much as possible. You can minimize your discomfort by scheduling your mammogram between days 5-15 of your menstrual cycle or taking a mild pain killer (like Tylenol or Motrin) prior to your exam.

How much radiation do my breasts receive with a mammogram?
The amount of radiation is extremely minimal and is comparable to the amount of radiation your entire body receives from the sun during a 1000 mile plane trip.

What's the difference between a screening and diagnostic mammogram?
A screening exam is done on a woman without any breast complaints; a diagnostic exam is done when the woman or her caregiver report a new finding.

When should I start getting regular mammograms?
Most organizations recommend yearly screening mammo- grams for all average risk woman beginning at age 40.

When should I stop getting mammograms?
With women living longer, there is no specific recommended age to stop getting mammograms. If you are in reasonably good health, you should continue getting yearly mammograms.

If no one in my family has breast cancer, why do I need to get mammograms? Up to 85% of breast cancers are random and occur in women with no family history of or specific risk factor for breast cancer.

How often is breast cancer genetic?
Less than 15% of breast cancers have known genetic links and only about 5% have a detectable gene mutation such as the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene mutations.

Should I get an ultrasound, MRI or thermogram instead of or in addition to a mammogram?
Mammography is the only screening test proven to decrease the death rate from breast cancer. Additional imaging is done in specific cases and in patients with increased risk factors. Thermography contributes little to the detection of breast cancer.

Is breast cancer increasing in incidence?
After steadily increasing over the last couple of decades, breast cancer incidence is slightly decreasing. This could be due to an actual decrease in the number of cancers, possibly due to the decrease in the use of hormone replacement therapy, or because mammography screening rates have recently decreased.

If I'm diagnosed with breast cancer, what are my chances of surviving?
Most people diagnosed with breast cancer do not die of their disease. If found early, breast cancers can be curable more than 95% of the time.

What has the survival rate from breast cancer done over time?
The survival rate from breast cancer has increased by about 2% per year over the last 10-15 years, mostly as a result of early detection on mammograms.

What does it mean if I get asked to come back for additional imaging?
Call back imaging is usually done to clarify a finding on your screening exam. Most of the time, the finding is cleared up and you go back to regular annual screening.

If a biopsy is recommended, does this mean that I
have cancer?

60-70% of biopsies result in a benign (non-cancerous) result.

This article was provided to 9News by the Breast Care Center at St. Joseph Hospital.

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