Mammography Myths

By Gretchen Bolander

Published 10/17 2013 06:13PM

Updated 10/17 2013 11:14PM

Mammograms are a valuable tool for not only detecting breast cancer  but finding tumors early, raising the odds of a successful recovery. But some patients put it off - worried about pain or health risks. Now, a few of the myths.

Issue number one: mammograms hurt. Wendy Chrisenberg is the supervisor at the Freeman Women's Pavilion. She said, "What I always tell women when they come for their first mammogram is - the nature of what we're doing, I can't get around it being uncomfortable, but it should not be painful. There are women who are very sensitive and that may be an exception. But if you tell your technologist, they should work with you."

Issue number two: the radiation will cause cancer. Chrisenberg said, "Any time you use radiation or Xray, there is a risk. But with mammography it is extremely low dose radiation. The benefit of the yearly mammogram outweighs the risk."

Issue number three: I don't have any symptoms or a family history, so I don't need a mammogram. Chrisenberg said, "That's the point of the screening mammogram, we want to find any abnormalities in your breast before you have symptoms, before you can feel it. The majority of women with breast cancer have no family history. Only about 8 - 10% of women with breast cancer have what we call genetic breast cancer."

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