BREASTS OF STEEL: Another reason why mammograms matter
This post is dedicated to my daughter who had her first mammogram last week. She turned 40 years old this year and that is the age her physician recommended she begin the squash, squeeze and photo session. While I make light of the process of how the mammogram is done, there is nothing humorous about the importance of getting a baseline image at first and then annual repeat screenings. Early detection and treatment of breast cancer is important to achieving the goal of healthy survival. I say go MAMMOGRAMS!!
The mammogram is an x-ray taken of the breast in order to screen for any abnormalities or signs that there could be cancerous growth. It is not a comfortable procedure and can be a bit intimidating so I was looking forward to hearing from my daughter about her experience. She said it wasn’t too bad and the technician actually showed her the visualizations. In fact, she told me that despite 3 kids, she had perfect breasts. They were symmetrical and looked far better on the x-ray screen then in person. Wow, I thought, she finally likes her body. She actually seemed to brag about the breastals. After her discovery that she had great boobs, she suggested that I write about mammograms. So I am, but that isn’t the end of the story.
More tests needed
No sooner then I had breathed a sigh of relief over the fact that she didn’t have a problem, I got a call back from her. Seems as if she had some opaque areas, which may be calcifications that needed further checking. We laughed that her perfect breasts may have some issues. Behind the laughter was some nervousness. Both of us did some research and she shared some information from the Susan B. Komen site that was particularly helpful to her.
From screening to diagnostic
The next step was to have more x-rays taken at different angles along with an ultrasound of her breasts. An ultrasound uses sound waves to image the part of the body where a transducer is placed. This creates a black and white image from the resulting echo. That image, along with the new x-rays, allowed the physician to further assess the situation.
My daughter is very fortunate – so then of course so am I. Her breasts have dense tissue which turned out not to be problematic. Her doctor wanted to make certain that because of the density in some of the breast tissue and because there were also some nonpathological calcifications, nothing was missed. She was given as “all clear” result. I told her that she had breasts of steel. We both thought that was funny, especially since we could now both stop holding our breath. Of course, she will have annual screenings to make certain she continues to stay problem free.
More about breast density from the Susan G. Komen site:
“Breast density is a measure used to describe the proportion of the different tissues that make up a woman’s breasts. Breast density compares the area of breast and connective tissue seen on a mammogram to the area of fat. Breast and connective tissue are denser than fat and this difference shows up on a mammogram.
- High breast density means there is a greater amount of breast and connective tissue compared to fat.
- Low breast density means there is a greater amount of fat compared to breast and connective tissue.
Women with high breast density (as seen on a mammogram) are four to five times more likely to get breast cancer than women with low breast density.”
When should a mammography be done?
There are differing opinions on this. For example, the Mayo Clinic, The National Cancer Institute, The American College of Physicians and the Susan B. Komen foundation recommend that mammograms begin when a women is 40 years old. Some physicians and women have different ideas and believe that you can wait until 50 years of age to start. Ultimately, it is up to the person to decide what is best for her.
As for me, I am glad my daughter and her physician agreed that 40 was the age for her to begin the screening. This way, she has a baseline measure for her breasts of steel.
Here are some links to information you may find helpful regarding the mammography: