Why You Should Get a Mammogram in NC

Why You Should Get a Mammogram in NC

We’ve almost passed through October, but we have a little longer to celebrate National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And in that conversation, we have to bring up mammograms. How often should you get a mammogram in NC, and what do these tests do for your health?

What are mammograms?

According to the American Cancer Society, mammograms are low-level x-ray procedures that radiologists use to examine breast tissue. The procedure needs to flatten the breast to spread its tissue for better visibility. The low-level x-ray procedure gives your doctor a picture of the tissue and can highlight small lumps that can’t be felt otherwise.

get a mammogram nc featured image
Image courtesy of the Breast Cancer Store.

Mammograms come in two different procedures, as the National Cancer Institute explains. First is the screening mammogram, which you receive even if you have no signs of breast cancer. This preventative mammogram requires just a few pictures of breast tissue, to see if you have any unusual growths (or tiny tumors).

Second is the diagnostic mammogram, which doctors use to examine you if they’ve already found a lump or other symptom during your screening mammogram. This second, in-depth mammogram uses more focused x-rays to gain a closer look into the breast tissue. Since this mammogram does deeper into the tissue, it’ll take longer.

How do mammograms help you?

They’re the first line of defense against breast cancer. Remember: you can receive a mammogram before you have felt a lump, and even if you don’t think you have a tumor. The x-ray system catches the signs of breast cancer long before they’ve developed into something more serious. And, as breast cancer experts note, when treating this disease, the earlier the better.

Of course, noticing a lump doesn’t mean you will get off scot-free from difficult cancer treatments or the disease’s impacts on your life. But it’ll give you a head-start on treatments.

One oncologist from Atrium Health echoes these benefits from mammograms.

Image courtesy of Atrium Health.

Dr. Arielle Heeke recommends one mammogram per year. “A yearly mammogram has the ability to identify an abnormality in the breast potentially before it becomes a bigger problem that requires more intensive therapies,” she says via email. “We are fortunate to have an effective screening modality – the mammogram – which is truly life-saving.”

She also commends the preventative help which getting a mammogram gives you. “Breast cancer is highly likely to be cured if caught early,” she says.

How can you get a mammogram in NC?

Well, Dr. Heeke might recommend Atrium Health and its doctors. But to get a mammogram in NC, you’ll just need to choose a nearby healthcare location that’ll suit your availability. Most clinics will give mammograms, but you should weigh the variables to get your best option: accreditation, up-to-date mammogram machines, the feasibility of payment, mobile treatment and other questions.

One thing to remember: you likely can’t receive this medical test through telehealth or other digital means, given the procedure. Getting a mammogram will probably mean getting one in person.

If you worry about the cost of a mammogram, you can also find NC clinics that offer them for free. One database (fittingly called Free Mammograms) can help you find cost-free tests in your county.

To top it off, Dr. Heeke says that everyone ought to spread the word on getting that yearly mammogram: “Women need to support other women by encouraging each other to get their annual mammograms!”

Don’t forget to catch our other health insights. For example: want to support your immunity for the winter? We have advice on mindfulness, diets and supplements (as with all other topics North Carolina residents need to thrive)!

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