I get asked about mammograms all the time, and I regret not writing about them sooner. Before we dive in, I want to acknowledge that mammograms have saved lives. If you have been affected by breast cancer, you are one of my heroes and I hope my opinions do not offend you. I simply believe there are much better options for all of us women, and that we should be informed about them at the very least.
Wishing you only the best, Jenny Eden
Clearly from the title of this article, I don't think that you should be getting mammograms. I know I'm going to get heat over this, but it's too important to avoid. Let's chat about why.
We'll get started with the two most obvious reasons. First, depending on the placement of your breast implants...
A mammogram may not be able to see all of your breast tissue for the screening.
Having breast implants will often require you to have additional x-ray views; but even then, doctors may not be able to see around and behind the implants.
Side note: I personally know women who's cancer has been detected via a mammogram, but that doesn't justify the procedure. There are much better, safer ways to accomplish the same goal faster!
The second reason is compression strength. If you’ve had a mammogram before, you know that the amount of pressure on the breast is significant. Radiographers are as careful as possible when it comes to women who have breast implants, but...
There have been cases where a rupture or implant damage has occurred due to compression.
Even if these two complications didn't exist, I would still tell you to completely avoid mammograms whether you have breast implants or not. Why? Because of radiation exposure. As a licensed x-ray tech, I cannot stress this enough...
You must avoid any and all unnecessary exposure to radiation—especially on your breasts.
Breast tissue has been shown to be especially sensitive to radiation, and the radiation exposure from a dual breast x-ray is 1000 times higher than a chest x-ray.
That should scare the crap out of you, because radiation from x-rays is carcinogenic. In other words, cancer causing. That's why each dual breast x-ray has been shown to increase breast cancer risk by at least 1 per cent, and women with breast implants typically need twice as many x-rays during a mammograhy.
But don't lose heart. There are 2 much better options!
In a perfect world, I would recommend that you always head straight for the MRI machine. MRIs are completely free of radiation and compression (they even show if you have any implant ruptures).
They also provide the highest quality image available for detecting breast cancer. Unfortunately they can be very expensive, and most insurance companies will not pay for an MRI breast exam until a less expensive option has indicated a potential problem.
But since it's not a perfect world...
Let's hold off on the MRI and completely replace mammograms with Breast Thermography.
Similar to an MRI, Breast Thermography is 100% free of radiation, compression, and pain. They are also very affordable and breast implants do not interfere with the screening!
How Breast Thermography Works
By using highly specialized infrared cameras, physicians are able to measure the varying levels of heat coming from your breasts.
Since pre-cancerous and cancerous masses require a massive supply of nutrients and increased blood flow, the temperature of those areas are hotter than normal tissue in the breast. If a Thermographer sees an area that concerns them, they will be able to give you next steps which will likely include getting an MRI to in order to more accurately diagnose their concerns.
Breast Thermography has become much more popular over the last 5 years, and the vast majority of cities have someone who specializes in it. Most Thermographers have a very personal story about why they chose to study in this field, so the level of patient care is wonderful.
So get the radiation of mammograms out of your life, replace it with a much safer alternative, and as always, please let me know if you have any questions :-)