Oct 22, 2013

Posted by in Medical Imaging | 0 Comments

Mammography Radiation: Valid Excuse?

mammo-radiationThere is a long list of excuses for why a woman may avoid getting her annual mammogram: it hurts, they never find anything or I’m worried about radiation exposure. When we really look at this list, we see them for what they are: excuses. The excuse I’m focusing on today is the one that, in my opinion, sounds semi-valid: radiation exposure.

At Pella Regional our clinicians focus on the safety of our patients and one of the many ways they do that is by having the most up-to-date medical imaging technology. This allows us to provide the lowest possible radiation dose while providing the best images for diagnosis. This is true for all of our equipment, including mammography.

Depending on your lifestyle and where you live, you are exposed to small amounts of radiation every day. Some is natural and some is man-made radiation. It’s found in the food we eat, water we drink and televisions we watch.

Without natural radiation we wouldn’t benefit from the heat of the sun and life wouldn’t exist as we know it.

Without man-made medical radiation we wouldn’t benefit from discovery and diagnosis of diseases that might not otherwise be detected early enough for efficient treatment. If properly indicated, the use of radiation for medical imaging outweighs the risk.

“All too often we see images where we know we could have helped sooner if the patient had come in for her annual screening exam,” said Dr. Lee Henry, radiologist at Pella Regional Health Center. “Hit and miss screening intervals risk allowing a small cancer to grow over a longer period of time, requiring more aggressive treatment when finally detected. Women need to get mammograms at the regular annual interval so that subtle changes in the breast tissue are caught early. When that happens, we can turn a breast cancer diagnosis into a speed bump rather than a roadblock in a woman’s life.”

Mammography fits into the category of being properly indicated. In 2013 an estimated 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed. Mammography is a low-dose x-ray procedure that allows visualization of the internal structure of the breast. As Dr. Henry says, it is especially important that women are regularly screened to increase the chance that a breast cancer would be detected early before it has spread.

There goes that radiation excuse for not getting a mammogram–sorry. As I said in a recent post, though, the breast squishing isn’t that bad. And besides, as one of the women from our KNIA/KRLS Radiothon said a few weeks ago: Women are strong. We know we are. We have to be to take care of our family. We know people count on us. Rely on your family. Rely on your friends. Rely on your faith.

What’s a bit of breast squishing when you have those words of wisdom to fall back on?

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