Have a mammogram question? Dr. Kari Thomas, a Legacy Breast Health Center radiologist specializing in mammography, answers the questions she hears the most.
There's no breast cancer in my family. Do I really need a mammogram?
Yes! Only about 10 percent of breast cancers are hereditary. Most women who get breast cancer do not have a family history of it.
How do I decide whether I should start at age 40 or 50?
This is a decision you should make after talking with your doctor about your personal situation. However, I advise women to start annual mammograms at age 40. That's because every day I see women who have been cured of breast cancer that was found early with a screening mammogram. I also witness the heartbreaking struggles of women with advanced cancer who would likely have been cured if only their tumors were found earlier. Almost one in five of Legacy's breast cancer patients are under 50. And while breast cancer is less common in younger women, it tends to be faster-growing.
Why can't I rely on self breast exams?
A mammogram can detect breast cancer long before it can be felt. The early and accurate diagnosis of breast cancer is key to survival - 99 percent of women survive if it is found in its earliest stages.
The radiation in a mammogram can't be good. It seems like it could even cause cancer.
There is no evidence of radiation from screening mammograms causing breast cancer. But one in eight Northwest women will get breast cancer in her lifetime. The radiation dose from a mammogram is about the same as you get from the environment in seven weeks.
Dr. Kari Thomas explains in this short video.
Is there more radiation in a 3-D mammogram?
Not at Legacy.
We have upgraded our mammography machines to reduce the radiation dose. With our new 3-D technology, you get more cancer-finding power, without more radiation. The radiation dose is the same as a standard 2-D mammogram.
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