Every year, over 200,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer. This makes breast cancer one of the most common forms of cancer in the United States, second only to skin cancer. However, over recent years, scientists have made significant advances in breast cancer screening and treatment methods, helping doctors to more accurately detect and diagnose breast cancer even in the earliest stages. Because of these advances, the number of breast cancer fatalities has actually decreased over the past 20 years. What are these advances in screening methods, and what steps can women take to help detect or even prevent breast cancer? Doctors agree that the most effective way to detect breast cancer, especially in its early stages, is to have a mammogram X-ray.
Doctors highly recommend that women have a mammogram at least once every year, especially women under 50 years of age. This will help ensure that any signs of breast cancer are detected and then treated at the earliest stage possible. Women who are looking to have a mammogram have two main options for the test, a film mammogram or a digital mammogram. For many years, film mammograms were the only option for women. Operating much like a traditional film camera does, a film mammogram will record the images from the mammogram on a roll of film for doctors to examine after the screening. In recent years, many doctors have begun to use a new form of mammogram, called a digital mammogram.
Digital mammograms likewise operate much like digital cameras do today. This form of mammogram will record the screening images digitally on a computer. Then, after the test is completed, doctors can go back and alter the image as needed, such as enlarging the image or brightening it. This allows doctors to even more accurately detect and diagnose the earliest stages of breast cancer. For this reason, many doctors are recommending that patients use digital rather than film mammograms.
Whether you choose to have a digital mammogram or a film mammogram, doctors agree that every woman should regularly have a mammogram X-ray. No matter if you choose to have one every year, or as often as your doctor recommends, mammograms have proven to be the most effective way to detect and then diagnose breast cancer for women in the United States. Talk with your doctor to find out what are the best mammogram screening options for you.