Health Magazine

Do I Still Need an Annual Mammogram After Breast Cancer Surgery?

Posted on the 12 January 2012 by Jean Campbell

woman getting mammogramIf you had a lumpectomy, or a mastectomy that removed the breast tissue but left the nipple and areola intact you will still need to continue to have an annual mammogram of the breast that had the cancer, as well as the unaffected breast.  Leaving the nipple and the areola following a mastectomy leaves enough breast tissue to warrant annual mammograms.

Following a lumpectomy, which is the removal of just the cancerous lump and surrounding tissue, most women have radiation treatment. Radiation will change the density and texture of the remaining tissue and skin. These changes will be taken into consideration with your first, post lumpectomy mammogram.

If you had a total, or a modified radical, or a radical mastectomy that included the removal of all breast tissue and the nipple and areola you do not need an annual routine mammogram of the affected side, but you do need an annual mammogram of the other, intact breast. If you have had a bilateral mastectomy, you no longer need to have an annual mammogram.

An annual mammogram is rarely done if, after having a mastectomy, you had your breasts reconstructed  using implants, tissue or a combination of the two. Breast tissue has been removed and the mammogram cannot view the underlying tissue behind the implant. However, if a clinical breast exam reveals a possible concern, a mammogram may be done with additional views.

Having a mammogram is not usually necessary following a tissue reconstruction, that is using a woman’s own tissue from another part of her body, most often from her abdomen or back, to recreate her breast.  Some circumstances that might indicate the need for a mammogram include women at high risk for recurrence, women with very large breasts or breasts that are difficult to examine, and any woman with a breast abnormality.

Don’t neglect  getting an annual mammogram for your remaining breast following a mastectomy as women who have had cancer on one side are at higher risk of developing cancer on the other.

Source: The American Cancer Society

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