One out of every eight women is likely to develop breast cancer in her lifetime. That’s why screening mammography or mammograms are so important. These tests can often detect early breast cancer before signs and symptoms appear. Gundersen’s Norma J. Vinger Center for Breast Care offers screening mammograms in La Crosse and several other Gundersen clinics throughout the area.
An annual mammogram is recommended by the American Cancer Society for all women over 40. You may be at higher risk if...
- You are age 50 or older.
- Your mother or sisters have had breast cancer.
- You have already had cancer in one breast.
- You have had a prior breast biopsy.
Mammography is useful because it can show breast tumors too small to be felt. However, about 10 percent of tumors are not visible on mammograms and can only be found by physical examination. That’s why a physical exam by a primary care provider is important before the mammogram.
Regular self breast examinations
are also encouraged between screening mammograms. Patients should discuss their risk factors with their provider, especially if they have a previous history of breast cancer or a family history of the disease. If patients see any change such as a lump, discharge, dimpling or anything unusual, they should contact their provider.
Some patients may get a phone call or letter asking them to return to the Clinic for additional special views or an ultrasound study. This should not be cause for concern because patients are called back fairly often. It simply indicates an area on the film needs to be looked at more closely.
Mammogram results are filed by Gundersen for 10 years. The films may be compared with future mammograms to determine whether any significant changes can be seen.