Get Mammograms During First Week of Menstrual Cycle for Best Results
Pre-menopausal women in their forties and fifties often get annual mammograms as recommended by their doctors. This is generally done at the time during the year that is most convenient for the woman. However, new research indicates that it may be smart to plan mammograms with a bit more attention to the calendar. Specifically women should consider getting their mammograms done during the first week of their menstrual cycle in order to get the best results.
A Seattle researcher named Dr. Diana Miglioretti has completed a study that shows that mammograms may be more sensitive and therefore more capable of detecting early stage breast cancer when completed during the first week of a menstrual cycle as compared with any other time during a woman’s menstrual cycle. The study showed that sensitivity to breast cancer detection was approximately eighty percent during the first week of a woman’s menstrual cycle. In other words, if breast cancer was present during the time that the mammogram was taken then the doctor would have an eight out of ten chance of seeing that show up on the mammogram. However, the sensitivity of the mammogram decreased to as low as sixty seven percent during other weeks of the menstrual cycle.
This study certainly needs some follow up before it can be said for sure how accurate it is. Although nearly four hundred thousand women participated in the study, fewer than 1300 of them were diagnosed with breast cancer. Since the information about when mammogram testing should be done was limited to those women who actually received a breast cancer diagnosis, the statistical sample is relatively small.
Additionally, the researchers found that this information only applied with any certainty to women who had gotten mammograms done within the two years previous to the testing. Women who did not receive regular mammograms did not necessarily have the same results. The researchers are unsure at this time as to why that might be. One suggestion was that women with regular mammograms will have smaller tumors when breast cancer is diagnosed and that the sensitivity of screening at this time would be able to find these smaller tumors.
Although the study is by no means definitive, it provides strong incentive to consider having regular mammogram testing done during the first week of a menstrual cycle. It has the possible benefit of being more sensitive and therefore better detecting any breast cancer that is present. It doesn’t seem to have any negative results. For example, false positive results were found to be no more likely during this week of the menstrual cycle that at any other time.
Plus there is the added benefit that women may experience less discomfort if they get their mammograms during the first week of their menstrual cycle rather than later in the cycle. This is because many women experience tenderness in their breasts during the later stages of their menstrual cycle and of course that would lead to greater discomfort when undergoing breast-related medical procedures like mammograms.
Source: Live Science