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16 Common Myths About Breast Cancer

ncer. While mammography does catch the vast majority of breast cancers, it is only one screening tool. One in five breast lumps is invisible on a mammogram. Women should also have a breast exam done by their health care provider each year. If you feel a lump, always get it checked out, even if your last mammogram was clear. Also, it’s important to get a mammogram every year. “The power of screening comes with regular annual exams,” Helvie says. Doctors will look at previous years’ mammograms to assess changes in the breast over time.

10. I was called back for “extra views” after my mammogram. That must mean I have cancer. Extra views may be necessary because there’s a shadow on the image. A mass may turn out to be a benign cyst. Most of the time, no further tests are necessary once the new images are reviewed. About 90 percent of women called back for extra views do not have cancer.

11. Mammograms are painful. Is it comfortable? No. But it doesn’t need to be excruciatingly painful, and most women will say it’s not. Pre-menopausal women should schedule their exam for the first two weeks of their menstrual cycle, when their breasts are less tender. If you find mammograms are painful, talk to the technologist performing it. The amount of compression used can vary, so the technologist can ease up on the squishing if it’s unbearable. Just keep in mind that more compression leads to a better image for the radiologist to read – so there’s a payoff to that bit of discomfort. Don’t think having a digital mammogram will get you out of it either. Digital mammography works the same as standard mammography by requiring compression.

12. If I have a breast biopsy, the surgeon might continue during that operation to remove my entire breast without telling me. Before the biopsy operation, you will sign an informed consent form that explains exactly what procedure will be performed. Many years ago, surgeons would remove a suspicious mass, biops
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