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Breast Cancer

Radiation levels: mammogram

01/22/2009

Question:

Hello - for the past 2 years - i`ve had issues with my right breast. A ton of pain in upper right area near my armpit, lumpiness, etc. Back in may of 2007, a dr. took 2 pictures (film mammogram) just of the area. I was 30 years old. Through the end of 2007 and 2008 i had follow up ultrasounds, etc. I was told it was fibrous tissue/perhaps small cysts, etc. Two weeks ago i went to another provider because i thought the lumps may have been getting larger. She(knowing my history) did an ultrasound and decided that she wanted to do a baseline digital mammogram on both breasts (just to make sure nothing was hidden). I`m 32 and have had 2 "sets" of mammogram pictures on my right breast over the past 2 years. I`m assuming the Dr. wouldn`t have done it if she was worried about radiation levels (with me being under 35). I have no family history as well. Do i need to be worried?

Answer:

Correct. There is not much risk at all from the radiation in mammogram exams. Breast pain is an infrequent sign of breast cancer, but it should be evaluated when the pain is in one area. Start with a mammogram, and probably ask for a referral to a breast surgeon (if you have not already seen one) to evaluate the "lumpiness". Ultrasounds and mammograms are a good start, though.

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Response by:

Paula  Silverman, MD Paula Silverman, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University