You can often hear us mutter “I hate breast cancer.” Cancer cells are bizarre and unfriendly creatures, but we do know a thing or two about them... one thing we know is that the compression of a mammogram does NOT cause cancer or cause any potentially existing cancer to spread. Cancer doesn't work that way.
So, fear not: getting a mammogram can't make any cancer grow or spread from the 10-seconds-or-less of pressure on the breast tissue. In fact, even significant pressure on the breast does not cause cancer - trauma doesn't correlate with having/spreading cancer. We even wrote a whole blog post about it, here.
Compression is our friend. What compression does is help us to detect cancer. This is good news! Compression spreads the tissues out, and because the image captured is 2-dimensional, this is very helpful. Normal tissue compresses differently from most cancerous tissues. It also allows for a more brief exposure to the radiation required to see into the breast. The positioning during a mammogram is purposeful to limit motion during the image-taking process. This allows the radiologists to see a clear picture, without confusing blurs that can hinder evaluation and allowing us to see the sometimes tiny and subtle changes of cancer.
Remember compression is tight but necessary - and oh so brief in the whole scheme of life. A very, very quick help to getting the best image and getting you on your way to your best possible health!
Originally published 8/22/13 on mammographykc.com.