Why Have a Mammogram if I Can Just Feel for a Lump?

Question:Why should I have a mammogram if I can just feel for a lump?

Answer: It is very important to feel for lumps and it is important to do a monthly examination and coordinate it with your cycle or with hormone replacement therapy if you're post-menopausal. But when you're feeling for a lump, a lump would have to be almost a half-an-inch in size before a patient, a woman, could feel it on herself. And certainly for someone who's larger-breasted, it's something that's deeper in, you might not feel it right away.

Sometimes lumps are a little bit more vague and so you're not sure if it's a lump; it feels like a thickening. So we always compliment this physical examination, breast self-examination, with a mammography. The mammograms are very, very helpful to kind of correlate and see if this looks like it's regular breast tissue or if it looks like a real lump.

Additionally, there are abnormalities that will show up on mammography. For example, calcifications, which you would never feel and certainly if these were an indicator of a problem, it might take several years before this would ever develop to a lump. So your odds of finding the problem and fixing it before it could ever become serious would be much greater if you had the mammography to compliment the physical examination or the breast self-examination.

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Dr. Anne RosenbergPlay

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