Is a myth keeping you from having a mammogram? For your health's sake, know the facts.
"I'm just as likely get cancer from the mammogram radiation."
THAT'S A MYTH. By age 50, about one in ten women has been diagnosed with breast cancer. One in eight women in the Northwest will get breast cancer in her lifetime. According to Harvard Medical School's Department of Radiology, the risk of breast cancer from screening radiation is less than one in one million. So, the odds of a mammogram saving your life are far greater than causing any possible harm.
Legacy keeps radiation levels as low as possible with state-of-the art equipment that is routinely calibrated, inspected, and tested against American College of Radiation standards. Learn more about radiation safety.
"Mammograms always hurt."
THAT'S A MYTH. While there is pressure, most women report no pain when the breast is compressed during the procedure, usually for less than 30 seconds. Compression doesn't harm your breast in any way, and it's necessary to get a clear image. If you have particularly sensitive breasts, you may want to schedule your mammogram at a time during your menstrual cycle when your breasts are least tender.
"It doesn't matter where I get a mammogram."
THAT'S A MYTH. Where you're screened matters. Diagnostic accuracy depends on the the quality of the screening equipment, as well as the experience and expertise of the technicians conducting the screening and the radiologists reading the mammograms. Legacy uses 3-D digital mammography for the fastest, most accurate results with the lowest radiation exposure possible. Our Breast Health Centers also offer leading-edge screening technologies, including breast-specific gamma imaging (BSGI) and breast MRI, for cases where mammography alone isn't enough.
Legacy has won multiple quality awards for the excellence of our breast health care, including designation of our Breast Health Centers as Breast Imaging Centers of Excellence by the American College of Radiology.
"I've only just turned 40, which is way too young for breast cancer."
THAT'S A MYTH. The incidence of breast cancer does rise with age, but unfortunately no one is "too young" for the disease. In fact, about 20% of Legacy's breast cancer patients are younger than 50. That's why we support the American Cancer Society recommendation that every woman have a baseline screening mammogram by age 40, and an annual mammogram after that. Mammograms are so important that they are now 100% covered by insurance.
"There's no breast cancer in my family, so I don't need a mammogram."
THAT'S A MYTH. A family history of breast cancer is all the more reason to have regular mammograms, but simply inheriting a hereditary factor is not enough to cause a cancer to develop. In fact, 90 to 95 percent of breast cancers are not related to genetics. In other words, only about 10 percent of breast cancer patients have a family history of breast cancer. To learn more, see this information sheet on breast cancer genetics.
"If my mammogram was negative, a lump in my breast is nothing to worry about."
THAT'S A MYTH. Mammograms are the best test we know to find breast cancer, but they're not 100% perfect. If you feel a lump, talk to your doctor.