Regular screening mammograms are one of the best ways to detect breast cancer early, when it’s easier to treat. They’re also a covered preventive care benefit in most health plans, so you may not have to share any of the costs.
If you haven’t yet had a talk with your doctor about your options, these five questions are a great way to get the conversation started.
Do I need a mammogram?
Mammograms are x-rays of the breast. They may help find tumors when they’re still too small to feel. Mammograms can also find abnormal cells in breast ducts that could become cancer later.
Every woman’s needs and risks are different. So talk with your doctor about how often to get a mammogram — and when to start.
Are mammograms safe?
Most screening tests have some risks. Mammograms are no exception. The x-rays do expose you to radiation, for instance. And the test results sometimes can appear abnormal even when no cancer is present. Such false-positives may lead to more tests and unnecessary worry for you.
Most experts believe the benefits far outweigh the risks. Your doctor can talk with you about the pros and cons.