Only those who had breast cancer or had someone close suffer from it know what the mammography myths and facts are. There are a lot of myths and rumors that do the rounds and often scare the patients from getting tested. From the false rumor of the high radiation level to the myth of not needing the test done annually can be quite risky for the patients.
Thanks to the organizations and people involved. There is quite a bit of awareness around breast cancer and related issues nowadays. But, there are still many misconceptions that surround it. One of the main reasons can be that it is still a hush-hush topic in India. Thus, women don’t feel comfortable talking about it openly.
However, it is high time that breast cancer and mammography myths and facts should be busted. This will help and encourage women to get themselves a routine checkup from time to time.
Let us take a look at some of the common myths and facts.
Myth: A mammogram has high levels of radiation that can be harmful.
Fact: The radiation used by the mammogram meets all the medical guidelines and is not very low.
This is one of the most common mammography myths and facts that need to be addressed. It is true that mammogram does use radiation. But according to doctors, “it is a very small amount and is within the medical guidelines.”
All you have to do is make sure that the place you are going to get tested is certified. The mammography tool is highly regulated by the Mammography Quality and Standards Act, Food and Drug Administration and other reputable governing organizations.
Myth: I need to have a family history of breast cancer to get it.
Fact: Most of the people detected with breast cancer did not share family history.
There are many people who believe that breast cancer is an inherited disease. Thus believes that if no one in your family had it, you wouldn’t either. But, the fact is that only about 5-10% of breast cancer cases are considered to be hereditary.
For patients who had no prior family history, other factors like lifestyle and environment must have come into play. For those patients who had a family member suffer from breast cancer, certain genes or abnormal changes must have passed down. Still, it is better to get the mammogram once a year and get the symptoms checked out if any, regardless of the family history.
Myth: A mammogram is sure to catch a cancer tissue if I have one.
Fact: Mammograms can find cancer but there are limitations.
This is another mammography myths and facts that need to be set straight. Mammography is one of the common tests that doctors prescribe to patients who have breast cancer symptoms. But, just like any other test, this one has limitations too.
Annual mammograms are very important and should not be missed. However, factors like the density of the breasts often play a significant role. For example, if the breast has dense tissues then it is easier for cancer to hide behind the tissues. Hence it is not detected in the mammogram test.
There have been cases of false negatives. Such as for women who had a normal result went on to get diagnosed with cancer a few months later. Mammography is one of the important tests that help to detect cancer. But other tests also play an important role in determining the outcome.
Myth: I cannot schedule a mammogram by myself.
Fact: You do not need a doctor’s prescription to schedule an exam.
Mammography is one of the tests that do not require a written prescription from the doctor. It is recommended that a woman over the age of 40 should get a mammogram exam done each year.
Even if your doctor forgets to write a test or does not mention it, it is recommended that you schedule a test for yourself. This is called self-reference. A mammogram helps in catching cancer in earlier stages and hence, is quite important.
Myth: I had a mammogram last year so, I can avoid this year.
Fact: A mammogram helps to detect cancer and not prevent it.
This is one of the most common mammography myths and facts that people need to understand. A mammogram helps to spot cancerous activity in the breast. It does not play any role in preventing it from happening in the future.
Going through the test previous year does not mean that you are good for next year too. This test is recommended once a year, which is easily doable. As there is yet no cure to cancer, catching it in the initial stages gives you the best chance to fight and defeat cancer.