Don’t Delay: Your Mammogram is Too Important to Put Off

Kenny Sam, DO
Breast and Interventional Radiologist affiliated
with Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital

When was your last screening mammogram? Has it been more than a year? Mammograms are easy to put off, especially during the pandemic, but sticking to an annual schedule is one of the most important things you can do for your health.

The affiliated physicians at Memorial Hermann Health System combine expertise with leading-edge technology to provide mammograms safely and conveniently in Fort Bend County. If you have delayed your mammogram because of the pandemic, it’s time to schedule your appointment. Your health is our top concern, and with our enhanced cleaning and safety precautions, you can get the care you need with peace of mind.

Who needs a mammogram?

The American College of Radiology recommends that women at average risk for breast cancer begin annual screening mammograms at age 40. Based on your individual health and family history, your healthcare provider may recommend a different schedule.

In addition to an annual screening mammogram, you may also need to be examined if you are experiencing certain breast symptoms. “Some things to look for are lumps or masses in the breast, skin thickening or redness, or nipple abnormalities including nipple discharge,” said Kenny Sam, DO, breast and interventional radiologist affiliated with Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital. “It’s important to remember that the early stages of breast cancer usually do not show any signs or symptoms, and we usually find it with a screening mammogram, so the annual exam is very important.”

What is a 3-D mammogram?

A 3-D mammogram, also called breast tomosynthesis, is an advanced imaging exam that combines several different breast images to create a three-dimensional view of the breast. This technology is available at all Memorial Hermann locations. “It helps us find smaller and more invasive cancers,” said Dr. Sam. “The technology can be especially helpful in patients with dense breast tissue.”

Don’t put it off.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in the United States. Early detection can save lives and having an annual screening mammogram can help identify problems sooner, when treatments are most successful. “It’s a very treatable disease, and we work with an excellent multidisciplinary team to treat and support our patients,” said Dr. Sam.

Even though we are still in the midst of the pandemic, the risk of infection while having a mammogram is very low. The National Cancer Institute estimates that delayed diagnoses due to the pandemic could result in 10,000 additional deaths from breast and colorectal cancers in the next 10 years. “We are seeing patients returning to our facilities at almost pre-COVID levels, and that is very encouraging,” said Dr. Sam. “If you are worried talk to your provider, but it’s safe, and it is very important.”

Mammograms and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Women are advised to wait four to six weeks after their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before having a screening mammogram. Some women experience temporary swelling in the lymph nodes in their armpits after receiving the vaccine. This could cause a “false positive” mammogram result. However, if you are having any breast symptoms, including finding a lump, you should not put off a mammogram and should contact your provider immediately.

Schedule today.

One lesson we have learned from the pandemic is the importance of health. It’s time to take care of yours, and scheduling your annual screening mammogram is a great way to stay healthy. Memorial Hermann offers a wide range of appointment times and convenient online scheduling for all locations across Greater Houston.

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