By Kim Hutchison
Have you had a mammogram yet or is it time for another one?
It’s a fact that women age 50 and over should have a screening mammogram every two years, or as recommend by their doctor. Like the majority of women in our country, no doubt there are valid reasons why you haven’t been able to get around to it but if intimidation of the actual process is one of them, uncovering mammography mythology will help you know what to expect when you go.
A mammogram is simply an x-ray of the breast that uses a low level of radiation – even less than a chest x-ray. There are two types known as screening and diagnostic. Screening mammograms check for abnormalities that may be breast cancer while diagnostic mammograms are performed when an abnormality has been detected.
At each screening appointment four x-rays are usually taken and for each x-ray the breast is compressed for a few seconds. Contrary to popular belief, compression does not damage breast tissue. All mammograms are free of charge and screens do not require a doctor’s referral for women 50 and over.
It is estimated that 22,400 women in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer with 5,300 dying from the disease and it is early detection uncovered in screenings that continues to lower these statistics while drastically heightening chances of survival.
If it has been a few years since your last test or it’s now time for your first, next month you will have the chance to get one in Ponoka.
From Nov. 18 to Dec. 11 Screen Test: Alberta Program for the Early Detection of Breast Cancer will be offering mammograms at the Ponoka Health Centre. “These mobile units make it easier for women in harder to reach urban areas to get the tests they need,” said Debbie Grant of the Centre. “If breast cancer can be caught in the early stages, treatment is available so the results of this test are worth the small amount of discomfort some women may experience” she said.
Anyone interested in taking advantage of this opportunity is asked to phone (toll free) 1-800-667-0604 to book an appointment.
It is important to note that breast cancer doesn’t only affect women. Each year 1 per cent of men are diagnosed as well. Abnormalities in male breast tissue are more easily detected through self-examination techniques but no matter what your sex or age, noticing changes in the body and seeking professional medical attention saves lives.