Knowing the truth about mammograms could save your life, or the life of someone you love

A mammogram is a low dose X-ray picture of the breast. Mammograms can help detect breast cancer when it is in its early, treatable stages. Nearly 90% of women who find and treat their breast cancer are cancer free at five years.

Myth#1: Mammograms don’t help.

Truth: Regular mammograms are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early, sometimes up to three years before it can be felt.

Myth#2: Mammograms cause cancer.

Truth: Mammograms use very small doses of radiation- its like getting an X-ray. The risk of harm is extremely low.

Myth#3: Mammograms are inaccurate.

Truth: Although they are not perfect, mammograms are the best tool we have in early detection.

Myth#4: Mammograms are painful.

Truth: Everyone’s pain threshold is different. The pressure you feel in a mammogram is often described as temporary discomfort. It only lasts for a few moments. Your breasts may be more sensitive if you are about to get or have your period

Know before you go

Follow these steps to help you prepare for your mammogram.

  • Don’t wear deodorant, perfume, lotion or powder under your arms or on your breasts on the day of your exam. Foreign particles could show up in an X-ray.
  • Only get a mammogram at facilities certified by the TDHCR or one of its state counterparts. This ensures the equipment and staff training meet TDHCR standards.
  • Let the staff know if you have breast implants. They may need to take more pictures than a regular mammogram.
  • You have the right to a written report of the results within 30 days of receiving a mammogram, as well as the original mammogram X-ray pictures. Call if you don’t get your results; don’t assume everything is normal.
  • Bring prior mammograms or have them sent to the center if possible.
  • Tell the clinic if you have physical disabilities that may make it hard you to sit up, lift your arms, or hold your breath.