Breast Cancer Awareness: Fact or Fiction?

Fact or fiction? True or false? With the variety of web-based health information sources and the constant changes taking place in medicine, it’s difficult to determine the truth when it comes to your health. Take a closer look at your breast health and get the real TRUTH about early detection and breast cancer.


Myth: Mammograms are risky because the radiation they emit causes cancer.

Truth: ABSOLUTELY NOT! Many people are concerned about the exposure to x-rays, but the level of radiation used in modern mammograms does not significantly increase the risk for breast cancer. Mammograms are approved, low-dose x-ray exams that does not create any significant risk of cancer. Strict guidelines ensure that mammogram equipment is safe and emits the lowest amount of radiation possible.

In fact, the radiation from a mammogram is comparable to the radiation you would receive on a regular cross-country airplane flight. Annual screening mammography is the most effective way to find cancer early, well before a breast lump can be felt by physical examination. It’s an important tool in detecting breast cancer at a stage when it is curable and more treatment options are available.


TRUE / FALSE rubber stamp print. Vector illustrationMyth: Finding a breast lump means you have breast cancer.

Truth: Nope. In reality, 80% of breast lumps are benign—not cancerous. However, if you do find a breast lump or notice changes in the breast tissue, it is still very important that you visit your physician immediately. He or she may refer you for a diagnostic mammogram to confirm that everything is okay. Often, women avoid care because they fear what they might find. Take charge of your health—breast cancer is most curable when found early.


Myth: If you don’t have family history, you won’t get breast cancer.

Truth: Wrong. Most breast cancers occur in patients who do NOT have a family history. It is true that family history increases a woman’s risk, especially if she has close relatives who have had breast cancer before age 50 (pre-menopausal). But ALL women are at risk, so it is important to follow the guidelines for early detection: annual mammography starting at age 40, along with monthly self breast exams and annual physical exams by our doctors.


Myth: Digital mammography does not use compression.

Truth: While some would like this to be true, digital mammography still uses the same physical process as traditional mammography, so breast compression must be used to obtain the best image possible for the radiologist to read. Breast compression helps obtain better x-rays by:

  • Flattening the breast so that the maximum amount of tissue can be examined
  • Allowing a lower x-ray dose to be used
  • Holding the breast in place to prevent blurring caused by motion.

The main benefit of a digital mammogram is its improved clarity and the radiologists’ ability to manipulate and enhance the image, much like a digital photo.

: Women need a referral from their physician for a screening mammogram.

Truth: We’re happy to report this is false! Women DO NOT need a physician referral to schedule a screening mammogram. Scheduling is easy at However, if a woman finds a lump or has a concern, she should see her physician first. He or she may order a more comprehensive exam, called a diagnostic mammogram, which does require a referral.


There are many myths and misconceptions when it comes to breast cancer. The real TRUTH is that early detection is our best weapon against breast cancer. Many types of breast cancer are treatable and curable, but not preventable. The answer to early detection is regular self-examination, professional examination, and annual mammography. Charlotte Radiology makes early detection and mammography easy, with 13 area breast centers (including 2 mobile breast centers) and online scheduling at

Posted in Breast Cancer Detection Guidelines, Diagnostic Mammography, New Mammogram Technology, Screening Mammography

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