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Six easy ways to get a better mammogram

Mammogram tipsGetting an annual mammogram takes less time than the average coffee break. And for the one in every eight U.S. women who will develop breast cancer, a mammogram can mean the difference between life and death because it detects tumors in the earliest stages. Radiologist Marc Inciardi, MD, Director of Breast Imaging at The University of Kansas Hospital, shares tips for getting the best possible mammogram.

Annual screening is essential

“The importance of annual screening mammograms for women 40 and older simply can’t be overstated,” Dr. Inciardi said. (See screening guidelines.)

“If breast cancer is found in the earliest stages – when the tumor is still quite small with no spread to lymph nodes – the average survival rate is 24 years for more than 90 percent of patients.”

Dr. Inciardi has read tens of thousands of mammograms in his career. He offers six easy ways to improve your mammogram.

  1. Schedule at the same time each year.
    Getting your mammogram on or near the same date annually helps ensure you don’t let a year – or two, or three – slip by without making an appointment.  
  2. Bring or send in previous mammograms taken at other facilities.
    By comparing the new images with previous ones, the radiologist can detect subtle changes in breast tissue, which ensures the most accurate interpretation. You’ll also receive your mammogram results more quickly.
  3. Choose a facility with 3D mammography (tomosynthesis).
    Considered a revolution in breast imaging, 3D mammography’s advanced x-ray technology provides 70-100 views of each breast. Conventional mammography provides only two. The result is more accurate images, which means a more accurate diagnosis. The $60 fee isn’t yet covered by most insurance companies, but Dr. Inciardi said the majority of patients now opt for it.
  4. Shower, yes, deodorant, no.
    Bathe or shower before your appointment to remove deodorant particles that could be mistaken for early breast cancer. Don’t reapply deodorant until after your mammogram.
  5. Alert the technologist to any abnormalities you’ve noticed.
    Let your mammographer know of any changes or abnormalities you’ve felt during breast self-exams. 
  6. Ask the technologist if you have dense breast tissue.
    A dense breast has more connective tissue than fat, which increases your risk of breast cancer. It also reduces the accuracy of a mammogram. Automated Breast Ultrasound, or ABUS, is a new technology that may be recommended to supplement your mammogram.

"Far too many women still don’t schedule regular mammograms," Dr. Inciardi said, "And breast cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death in women."

Schedule today

Screening mammograms save thousands of lives every year, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month is the perfect time to schedule one. The University of Kansas Hospital’s Breast Imaging makes getting a mammogram quick, easy and comfortable.

Call 913-588-1227 for an appointment at one of our convenient locations.

 (3D mammography is available only at Westwood.)