Healthy Living

What Are Mammograms?

Oct 1 2019

Mammograms are crucial to breast cancer early detection as they can find the disease in its earliest, most treatable stage.

According to a 2015 study conducted by the National Cancer Institute; by 2030, they estimate there will be 441,000 new breast cancers diagnosed each year.

Early detection is key in providing effective care and increasing survival for any cancer diagnosis, including breast cancers. Therefore, an annual mammography must be that top of your ever-changing to-do list.

Determining your risk of breast cancer

Understanding your risk of breast cancer is critical to your overall health. According to the CDC, breast cancer has many risk factors including age, having dense breasts, reproductive history, and family history, just to name a few.

“It’s important to understand that breast cancer is not simply a genetic disposition. Lifestyle choices play a significant role in your overall health, including the risk of breast cancer,” says Dr. Mita Patel, Breast Surgeon Oncologist with Mercy Health – Lorain.

Those lifestyle choices include:

  • Being physically active throughout your day
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Reducing and quitting smoking
  • Limiting alcohol consumption

Positive habits not only lower the risk of breast cancer, but many other health risks as well.

Why is mammography important?

“Mammography remains the number one diagnostic tool for detecting breast cancer,” says Dr. Patel.

Simply put, a mammogram is an X-ray image of the breast. Over the years, mammography has evolved to become more accurate. It now allows providers to detect cancers in even the smallest form.

Nearly one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Early detection via a mammogram could save a lot of these lives.

Are there different types of mammography?

Many people don’t know there are two types of mammograms.

  • Screening Mammogram – This type of mammogram complies two different angles of the breast. It is routinely administered to detect breast cancer in women who have no apparent symptoms. The process usually takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete.
  • Diagnostic Mammogram – This type of mammogram is administered if there are any suspicious breast changes on a screening mammogram or exam findings. More images will be included, and the process usually takes between 10 to 30 minutes.

There are also two types of mammogram imaging – 2D and 3D.

  • 2D Mammogram Imaging – These are flat images of the breast, and the breast tissue is overlapping.
  • 3D Mammogram Imaging – For this imaging an x-ray machine makes a sweeping arch over the breast. The process lasts only a couple seconds longer than a traditional 2D exam, taking multiple images to create a 3D image.

When should I get a mammogram?

“You really need to have a conversation with your doctor to determine when to have a mammogram,” says Dr. Patel. “Risk factors such as family history and other health disparities can dictate at which age and the frequency of your examinations.”

Be sure to talk with your physician. Also, let October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month – be your annual reminder for a breast exam.

Visit to learn more about the Breast Cancer Screening services we offer.

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Patsy Clark

Went for second mammogram this morning and told that all was okay. Michelle did a great job with the mammogram and was thankful for the result!
April 11th, 2018 | 3:42pm

Mercy Health

Great to hear, Patsy. Thanks for sharing!
April 11th, 2018 | 3:43pm

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