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The benefit of mammography screening outweighs the risk of any harm from the radiation. Currently it is estimated that ionizing radiation needed for a mammogram is lower than the dose of cosmic radiation to which a passenger on an intercontinental flight may be exposed, or a skier on a mountain over 3,000 meters. Use of a low dose radiation gives doctors the ability to repeat the mammogram once a year, beginning after age 40 to 50 years. A mammogram could be prescribed for women with personal or family history of cancer of the breast or other organs, regardless of her age.
Those patients who have not entered menopause need to make sure they are not pregnant before obtaining a mammogram, due to the small potential radiation exposure.
For women who have a breast implant, there is an extremely small chance that the pressure placed on the implant during the mammography will cause a rupture or break. If this occurs, a surgical operation may be needed to have the implant removed.
In a very small number of cases, the accuracy of the mammogram is lower than usual.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/7/2012
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