Radiation Effects From Mammograms

Low-Dose Radiation Mammograms

Some women fear getting a mammogram due to radiation exposure levels. Mammograms look at breast tissue, requiring a small dose of radiation to evaluate the tissue. The radiation level is lower than a standard X-ray. Mammograms are done using two plates that compress the breast to spread out the tissue, allowing a radiologist to get the best possible look. A 3D mammography takes tomosynthesis slices of the breast using low-dose X-rays creating multiple images. Radiologists can evaluate the breast structure without overlapping tissue, helping to better diagnose women with dense fibrous breast tissue. We offer the Genius 3D™ Mammography, the world’s most advanced imaging technology. The Women’s Clinic of Northern Colorado provides 2D alone and 2D, 3D combination Genius Hologic digital mammograms.

Myth Of High Radiation Risks Of A Mammogram

Each year, the average American is exposed to 3 mSv of radiation. The average radiation dose for a mammogram is about 0.4 millisieverts. Repeated X-rays can increase the risk of breast cancer, but the risk is minute. A mammography is a screening tool that is highly regulated by the Mammography Quality and Standards Act and the Food and Drug Administration. The radiation dose from a yearly mammogram is the same as about two months of radiation exposure in the everyday world. Mammograms save lives by detecting breast cancer before it metastasizes to other areas of the body. A screening mammogram helps detect breast cancer in women with  no signs or symptoms of any illness. A diagnostic mammogram is appropriate when symptoms are present. There is a very low level of radiation risk for either type of mammogram.

Myth Of Low-Radiation Alternatives To Mammograms

Some patients worried about radiation levels in a mammogram consider low-radiation alternatives like breast MRIs, ultrasounds, and breast thermography. These tools sound too good to be true because they should not be used as primary screening methods for breast cancer. The American Cancer Society, Society of Breast Imaging (SBI), and the American College of Radiology recommend a mammogram as the best screening tool to detect breast cancer accurately. Clinical breast exams and self-breast exams are detection methods, but they should never be used as a replacement for a mammogram. It’s critical to follow up with a clinical breast exam by your provider and possibly a diagnostic mammogram if you find a lump during a breast self-exam.

Risk Factors For Breast Cancer

Women after the age of 40 should start screening with a mammogram yearly. You may need to be screened earlier if you have risk factors, including:

  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Being Overweight
  • Dense breast tissue
  • Genetic mutations
  • A Family history of breast cancer
  • Previous radiation therapy treatment to the chest

Contact The Women’s Clinic of Northern Colorado

Mammograms are the most accurate screening tool to detect breast cancer as early as possible.  The average woman has a one-in-eight chance of developing a breast cancer in her lifetime. The benefits of a low dose screening mammogram far outweigh the risks of an undiagnosed breast cancer. If you’re over 40,  are at high risk for breast cancer or are due for your routine annual mammogram, contact us today to schedule an appointment. We’ll walk you through the process, explaining each step. We’re here to set your mind at ease and potentially save your life with a mammogram. Contact us to make an appointment today!