Do women still need regular mammograms after a mastectomy? The answer is yes. If a unilateral mastectomy was performed, a mammogram on the unaffected breast is still recommended. Mammograms are the first line of defense against breast cancer.
Many women who have undergone a mastectomy may be hesitant to have regular mammograms due to fears about radiation exposure or being at risk for additional surgery.
In this article, we’ll review the importance of screening mammograms for all women to help alleviate any fears or reservations you have about this procedure following a mastectomy.
Remember That Mammograms Save Lives
Mammography is an imaging technology used to provide detailed radiologic images of breast tissue. It helps detect small tumors you cannot feel, which may indicate cancer or other breast abnormalities.
This technique involves compressing and imaging the breast tissue to obtain highly detailed images. The compression aspect of your mammogram results in relatively low radiation exposure, making it safe for regular screening purposes.
Mammography After Breast Cancer
Your clinician may recommend a mammogram approximately 6 to 12 months after finishing treatment. Your first mammogram after breast cancer treatment is often considered the new “standard.”
Following the screening results, your clinician will likely recommend that you resume attending regular mammograms each year.
Suppose you had a partial mastectomy (or lumpectomy), where the surgeon removed the cancerous lump and surrounding tissue. In that case, medical experts still recommend that you have regular mammograms on both breasts due to the risk of cancer coming back. However, if the surgeon removed the entire breast, you will only need to have the remaining breast screened regularly.
Remember, survivors of breast cancer are at higher risk of developing cancer in the remaining breast; therefore, regular screenings are essential.
Do I Need a Mammogram After a Double Mastectomy?
Following a double mastectomy, when both breasts are removed, there is not enough tissue to perform a mammogram. However, cancer may still recur on the skin or chest wall.
Therefore, experts still recommend regular breast self-exams to identify changes in the skin area and tissue. You will need to work closely with your healthcare team to determine the best detection practices following this procedure.
Do I Need a Mammogram After Breast Reconstruction?
If you underwent breast reconstruction surgery after a mastectomy, you may wonder if you need to have mammograms on the reconstructed breast(s).
Unless you had a nipple-sparing mastectomy, you may not need regular screening mammograms, especially if no breast tissue remains. As with double mastectomies, however, cancer may still occur on the skin or chest wall; therefore, you will still need to perform regular physical exams.
Typically, lumps and calcifications in reconstructed tissue are benign fat necrosis, which can be felt and are visible using mammography. In this case, the lump is a result of fat cells dying after the reconstruction procedure.
Did you have breast reconstruction? If so, you’ll want to talk to your clinician about what screenings he or she recommends and create a care plan to ensure you’re taking active measures to prevent cancer from recurring.
Schedule Your Mammogram Today
The Breast Center at Maple Grove offers Minneapolis’s most convenient mammogram appointments.
Our hours are Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We also offer extended hours until 8:00 p.m. on Tuesdays.