You have a spot on your mammogram. You have breast cancer.
No two sentences can strike more fear in a woman than those above. Sometimes that fear prevents a woman from actually getting a mammogram in the first place. Yet we know that diagnosing a breast cancer early with a screening mammogram helps with treatment options, surgery and an eventual cure.
Breast cancer is treatable and curable most of the time, especially when it is small and found early. Sometimes the mammogram will find a cancer so early that it is not even physically noticeable to the woman or her doctor. Most breast cancers will occur after age 50 (postmenopausal) and are not genetically associated. The recommendation is to start mammograms at age 40 and repeat every two years until age 50. Then you should obtain yearly mammograms after that. If there is a strong family history of breast cancer, then it is recommended to start yearly mammograms at age 35.
Some women are afraid of the radiation from a mammogram – but rest assured that a mammogram is now digital and even with extra imaging it has minimal radiation risk.
So, I encourage you to get your mammogram as recommended. An abnormal mammogram, or even a palpable lump, will lead to a biopsy, but most biopsies (>85%) are benign! Whew.
The Breast Team at Meriter-UnityPoint Health includes screening mammography at Meriter Monona, diagnostic mammogram and possible biopsy as needed at 1 S. Park UW Breast Center radiologists, Meriter Medical Group Surgical Consult as necessary and reconstruction consultation with Reconstructive Plastic Surgery at Meriter Monona. We work closely with the UW Oncologists making the process seamless.