Don’t put off your mammogram
“...most women wonder what the fuss was all about after their screen is complete.”
Have you been putting off that breast check-up because you are worried or anxious about a mammogram? Stop overthinking it and take control of your health. Director of The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital’s Breast Clinic Dr Colleen O’Sullivan said she regularly sees patients who are referred for a mammogram and are concerned about the compression of their breast tissue. “I have seen many women who have heard anecdotes about the discomfort associated with the procedure and subsequently they are anxious about having a mammogram and have avoided the examination for some time,” Dr O’Sullivan said. “I believe it’s very important that women understand why breast compression during a mammogram is absolutely necessary and in doing so I hope that it encourages more women to undertake this important screen.” Dr O’Sullivan said compression during a mammogram provides crucial care because it enables high quality images due to the restricted movement; improved accuracy by decreasing the number of false densities that can potentially appear; and improved patient safety due to reducing the already very low dose of radiation received during the procedure. According to Cancer Australia, breast cancer is the most common cancer among Australian women with one in eight women diagnosed by the time they turn 85. “Early detection, through being aware of breast changes and undergoing screening mammography on a regular basis, leads to improved survival rates and treatment options which is why I urge women to undertake this test regularly,” Dr O’Sullivan said. “During a mammogram, breasts are compressed for the minimum amount of time possible – approximately 10 seconds for each image – and I find that most women wonder what the fuss was all about after their screen is complete.” Dr O’Sullivan said that for women who have very sensitive breast tissue, taking some simple analgesia such as paracetamol prior to their mammogram can ease any discomfort they experience with compression. For women who are premenopausal, Dr O’Sullivan recommends timing a mammogram to avoid their premenstrual phase. The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital offers the latest technology 3D mammography which gives significantly more information than a standard mammogram. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so do not delay regular mammograms, even if you feel uncomfortable with the level of breast compression during the screen.