Breast cancer is the leading form of cancer for women in the United States. With over a quarter of a million newly diagnosed breast cancer patients expected this year, it is also the second leading cause of death for women in the United States.
Jim Gray MD, a radiologist from Meridian, Mississippi, insists that cancer is always best treated as early as possible through the use of screening tests. Those that submit to regular screening tests can catch cancer before symptoms exist and early enough to treat. One of the best cancer screening tests available for women are annual mammograms.
The Role of Mammograms in Surviving Breast Cancer
When employing mammograms, physicians use these tests most often diagnostically. That is, the patient feels discomfort or unusual density inside one or both breasts. Diagnostic mammograms check to see if the symptoms are signs of breast cancer. These tests are successful either way. If determined to be noncancerous, the symptoms may go away, or the doctor may provide treatment on a problem already confirmed to not be cancer.
If a diagnostic mammogram uncovers precancerous or cancerous masses, discovering breast cancer early allows doctors to treat for breast cancer early. Treating breast cancer early significantly increases the patient’s chance of survival.
The second type of mammogram is called a screening mammogram. It is 100% preemptive, as no symptoms yet exist. Screening mammograms are strongly recommended for women ages 50 and older. According to Jim Gray MD, women younger than 50 can still benefit from annual mammograms, though their risk of breast cancer is lower.
Screening and diagnostic mammograms are responsible for significantly higher survival rates in breast cancer patients between the ages of 40–70. Females over 50 years old are far more likely to survive breast cancer by getting annual mammograms. For women with a family history of breast cancer, Jim Gray MD recommends annual mammograms much sooner, even as early as 40 or 45 years of age.
How Does a Mammogram Work?
Mammograms involve x-rays of one or both breasts. If diagnostic, the patient has already noted unusual activity in parts of one or both breasts. These diagnostic x-rays are typically more involved than screening x-rays since there are causes for concern meriting investigation.
In contrast, screening mammograms involve fewer x-rays on each breast. During screening mammograms, there is no immediate concern. As such, the x-rays look for anything out of the ordinary, and should the testing reveal abnormalities, a doctor can recommend further steps.
The testing equipment does put pressure on the breast. As a result, some women report feeling discomfort during testing. The equipment will need to carefully spread the mass of the breast just enough to be able to examine all areas of the breast. Mammograms do not usually last longer than 15 minutes. Most women that felt discomfort during the test do not feel much, if any, discomfort once the test is over.
At his radiology diagnostic practice in Meridian, Mississippi, Jim Gray has assisted countless patients seeking to detect and treat breast cancer early by having annual mammograms. For more information, visit https://www.jimgraymdms.com/.