Health and Fitness Tips

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Extremity mri

Getting a mammogram is something that far more women should do. Not enough women get the diagnostic imaging done regularly enough. It’s amazing what a simple extremity MRI can catch. If you are one of those women that are uniformed regarding MRI scans and mammograms, then here are the answers to some commonly asked questions.

What is a mammogram?
This is the first thing that you should understand. A mammogram is an extremity MRI or x-ray picture of the breasts. You will get the images done standing up in front of the machine. You will need to hold on to the bars as the nurse positions you for each picture.

Why get it done?
Simply put- it can save your life. Cancer is most treatable in the beginning stages so early detection is crucial. You might think you are fine because you do the physical exam in the shower every couple of months but a mammogram can actually catch changes in the breasts almost two years before you or even a doctor would be able to feel them. If the cancer is caught soon enough then it can be stopped from spreading.

When should I start getting mammograms?
Is it recommended to start getting mammograms at 40 years old. If you have symptoms or a family history of breast cancer, you should start getting them at 35 years old, just to be safe.

How often should I get them?
Mammograms should be a yearly event.

What can I expect?
If you’ve never had a mammogram before, then you might feel a little apprehensive of the idea. It’s really a simple procedure but it might take awhile, depending on the wait time. After you check you will be taken to a separate waiting room. Once they call you in, you’ll be given a gown that ties in the back and you’ll need to undress from the waist up and put on the gown. Your nipples and any large discolorations will be covered with stickers in order to more easily identify them in the scanned images later. As mentioned earlier, you’ll stand in front of a machine and the nurse will put you where you need to be. You will have to pose in various positions in order for the technician to get efficient pictures. After you are done, you’ll be able to dress and go home. You’ll get results weeks later by mail if nothing is found. If there are any concerns, your doctor will likely call you.

Does it hurt?
The extremity MRI machine itself doesn’t hurt you. It may feel strange and embarrassing, especially if you are private type of person but it’s just an x-ray; no poking or prodding except possibly by the nurse.

What if they find something?
Even if the images show something, this does not mean that you have breast cancer. You may been called in for more pictures but this may just be because you have dense breasts and it’s harder to see through them clearly. A lump doesn’t even mean cancer. If they do find a mass then you will likely need to have a biopsy done in order to determine whether or not the mass is cancerous. Many people have biopsies done that turn out to be benign.

Why should we get mammograms to screen for breast cancer but not all types of cancer?
Extremity MRIs are used to screen for many different types of cancer. It is actually recommended to start screening to cervical cancers every three years with a Pap test. Colon cancer screening should start at age 50. Screening for lung cancer is usually only done for those who are high risk. Men are supposed to screen for prostate cancer as well. Mammograms are just the most commonly heard of because they are done the most often. This is because breast cancer spreads the fastest. It needs to be detected incredibly early otherwise it could lead to some serious and traumatic treatment and possibly fatal results.

So, if you are over 40 and have not had a mammogram, it’s time to schedule your appointment. Don’t put it off until a better time. Call your doctor as soon as you can and get in with the first appointment that is available. Breast cancer is nothing to joke out or procrastinate over.