HEALTH BEAT WITH DR. ALICIA ARNOLD -- Mammograms

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Why are regular mammograms important?

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “We want to detect any changes early, so a cancer can be treated when the disease is small and it hasn’t spread. The last few decades have fortunately brought many advances in the treatment of breast cancer.”

Some women are nervous about a mammogram being painful.

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “We do have to compress the breast to get the best images of the tissue, which many women find somewhat uncomfortable. The compression only lasts a few seconds. Proper compression allows the radiologist to evaluate the entirety of the breast tissue and to minimize the radiation needed for the exam. We do a top to bottom view of the breast and a side to side view of the breast so the radiologist can best identify any potential areas of concern.”

Tell us about the new technology of breast tomosynthesis.

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “It is a new development that allows radiologists to see the breast in greater detail than standard mammography. It allows us to obtain a more 3-dimentional view of the breast compared to a 2D view with standard mammography. It helps us to identify abnormalities earlier and reduces the frequency of call-backs for additional imaging.”

Tips for women who may be getting their first mammogram.

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “You will need to change into a gown, so you may feel more comfortable wearing a skirt or pants rather than a dress. If you are still getting your monthly cycle, consider scheduling your mammogram for the week after your period since your breasts may be less tender at this point in your cycle. Don’t wear deodorant or powder or lotion on your chest or underarm area since these may show up on the mammogram and look like a problem with your breast. You may want to schedule your mammogram early in the day so you can put on deodorant afterwards.”

Talk about why some women may need to return for extra imaging.

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “The first thing to remember is not to panic. Most women who have to return for additional images end up having a non-concerning mammogram. Women who come in for their first mammogram have a higher rate of call-backs because we don’t have comparison mammograms. Other reasons women may be called back include part of the breast not be included on the image or the mammogram being blurry.”

Can women have mammograms if they have had prior surgery on their breasts?

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “Yes, if you have had a breast reduction or breast implants, it is still important to get mammograms. There is a way to displace the implants to better allow the doctor to evaluate the tissue in front of the implants. It will not damage the implants.”



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