October is National Breast Health Awareness month, which means there’s a lot of talk about the importance of getting regular mammograms. And for good reason! An annual mammogram is widely known as the best way to detect breast cancer early, when women have the most treatment options and better chances of a favorable prognosis.
But not all mammograms are the same. There are two different primary types - screening mammograms and diagnostic mammograms - and some important differences between the two. Read on to learn how both exams are vital to saving lives.
Diana McEnerney, director of the Lee Health Breast Centers, says that a screening mammogram looks for signs in women who don’t have any problems, and a diagnostic mammogram checks the breast if there have been changes or problems detected.
“A screening mammogram is the most effective screening tool to find breast cancer in most women because the exam can detect masses and calcifications before you or your doctor can feel them,” McEnerney says. “The exam is done yearly in women who have no breast symptoms or changes in their breast exam. All our outpatient breast imaging locations offer the latest screening technology, including 3D mammography screens.”
Experts recommend annual screening mammograms for women who are 40 years or older or for younger women with specific risk factors. Women don’t have to have any signs or symptoms of a breast abnormality in order to receive a screening.
McEnerney says that a 3D screening mammogram is a woman’s best tool for detecting any changes in breast tissue.