"Check your breasts!" This sentiment has been drilled into the minds of women in the United States since eighth-grade Sex Ed. While its underlying theme of "early detection can save a life" may be accurate, the previously praised screening method of mammography has recently come under fire. When it comes to your overall health and well-being, taking a few steps back to consider the important points of breast examination is paramount.

What is Mammography?

Mammography is the practice of X-raying the breasts to detect or diagnose cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that women in their 20s and 30s receive a clinical breast examination including a screening mammogram every three years. This increases to every year for women aged 40 and older.

What Are the Pros of Mammography?

Using screening mammograms, physicians have been able to detect tumors in women who did not necessarily display cancerous symptoms. Using early detection, the mammogram has helped to prevent the number of deaths from breast cancer.Traditionally, the breast had to be viewed from two sides during an exam but more recent technology has allowed for clearer views, needing only to be viewed from one side.

What Are the Cons of Mammography?

Some women complain that a mammogram is uncomfortable.The breast has to be compressed between two plates in order for an accurate X-ray to be taken. Additionally, the X-ray may not work for women with very dense breasts such as pregnant women or breastfeeding women. A recent study has also called into question whether a mammogram truly helps to prevent deaths of women to breast cancer. Conducted during years 2000 through 2010, it claims that, while cancer screenings were increased by 10 percent and diagnoses increased by 16 percent, no reduction in deaths from breast cancer were found. Further, it disparages the screenings for creating an overdiagnosis of breast cancer (the diagnosis of a disease that will not become harmful to one's health).

What Does This Mean for You?

While the aforementioned case has been disputed, it is important to recognize the limitations as well as the benefits of receiving a mammogram. The most important benefit is that a mammogram is for the purpose of detecting the early stages of breast cancer. While overdiagnosis is a possibility, it is important to remember that finding symptoms early is the best way to survive cancer. A mammogram won't tell you everything you need to know about your breasts and, often, a diagnosis is not made without additional testing. What it can offer, however, is some guidance and peace of mind when it comes to your breast health. To schedule a mammogram today, contact Women's Care Inc.