Fears over X-rays
QAI know that mammograms involve X-rays and am worried about the radiation. Should I have one?
Interesting point, and you are right – mammograms do involve X-rays and, therefore, radiation. The mammogram breast cancer screening programme saves 1,300 women’s lives every year in the UK, but it also picks up some cancers or changes that would not worsen/ become more serious or risk life – about 4,000 of these each year.
This causes a significant amount of anxiety, and treatment is offered for these cancers. It also causes three to six extra cases of cancer per 10,000 women having screening from the ages of 50-70, which is why the screening programme is every three years and not more frequently.
It isn’t perfect, but it picks up more than 18,000 cases of breast cancer each year, saving a lot of lives.
There are lots of breathing techniques, but all of them essentially involve slowing down your breathing. They need to be practised, so you need to do them even when you don’t feel anxious, so they become automatic, and can help when you do feel anxious.
Start by slowing down your breathing, counting your breath in for a count of four and then out for a breath of four counts. Or even breathing in for a count of four, holding for a count of four and then breathing out for a count of six or eight.
Perhaps start practising when you are feeling calm, maybe lying or sitting down, until you can do it easily. Don’t worry if thoughts pop into your head, just acknowledge that and go back to focusing on your breath. Keep practising!