Can you get cancer from mammogram radiation?

Thyroid shield

Rumors urge patients to request a thyroid shield, shown here, during a mammogram. But experts at Botsford Breast Center explain they just aren’t necessary and may do more harm than good. Talk to your provider to find out what’s best for you.

Exposure to radiation can increase the risk of cancer. This is true, which is probably what caused a recent rumor that mammograms can cause thyroid cancer. So can you get cancer from your annual mammogram, the imaging test that is so vital to detecting and treating breast cancer early?

To answer this important question, we went to one of our experts:  Dr. Andrew Mizzi, an experienced Radiologist who reads and interprets mammogram images at the Botsford Breast Center.

Dr. Mizzi explains that while large amounts of radiation over a person’s lifetime can lead to the development of cancer, the radiation exposure from an annual mammogram is far less than what a person is exposed to in their natural environment (radiation is naturally occurring and we are exposed to it every day in small amounts).

Also, the new digital imaging technology used by most mammography centers, including Botsford Breast Center, reduces the amount of radiation “scatter,” which means radiation goes only where it needs to go – on the patient’s breast.

And finally Dr. Mizzi explains that even any risk of developing cancer from a mammogram is far outweighed by the benefit of screening for, detecting and treating breast cancer early.

So despite what you may hear, skipping your annual mammogram is not a good idea. And you really don’t have to request a thyroid shield as rumors urge. In fact, Dr. Mizzi explains that using a thyroid shield during a mammogram may actually interfere with the procedure and create a need for another image which will expose you to more radiation. The bottom line is if you’re concerned about your exposure to radiation, talk to your health care provider about the risks and benefits specific to you.

Whether you’re still concerned or not, the mammography experts at Botsford Breast Center will discuss your individual needs with you and help you detect breast cancer early in the safest way possible. If you’re due for a mammogram, make an appointment today.

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