Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in Allegheny County and Pennsylvania, with nearly 13,000 women in the Commonwealth estimated to be diagnosed with the disease this year alone. With screenings and early detection, fortunately, many of these women can be successfully treated.
“Time and time again, research studies have shown that early detection of breast cancer is key to saving lives, and mammography is the best tool we have,” says Zidnia Conde-Colon, MD, of the St. Clair Health Breast Care Center. Screening mammography can often detect breast cancer before any symptoms appear.
Dr. Conde-Colon explains, “It is important for patients to come every year to get their mammogram starting at age 40 because having multiple mammograms for comparison aids in the early identification of small breast changes that may otherwise be detected as a larger abnormality causing more harm.”
A screening mammogram will begin with a brief review of your medical history, before an imaging technologist examines your breasts and then positions your body in the mammography machine to capture images. You should try to remain still and hold your breath while one breast at a time is gently compressed for no more than 30 seconds for each image—with two images taken of each breast.
Normal screening results will be mailed, though some patients may receive a callback for additional imaging. This is common after your first mammogram, as there’s no previous comparison to establish a normal finding. But you shouldn’t let fear of the results or examination keep you from getting an annual mammogram.
“No preparation is needed when getting a mammogram. We just need you to schedule an appointment and show up,” emphasizes Dr. Conde-Colon. “I would urge every woman to show up and take that first step to help us save their life.”
Call 412.942.7800 to schedule your annual mammogram at the St. Clair Health Breast Care Center. As a leader in high-value health care, St. Clair Health participates with all major insurers. To learn more, visit stclair.org/breastcare.