Dr. Jay Harness discusses if mammograms are dangerous. Jay K. Harness is the former President of the American Society of Breast Surgeons and the Medical Director of the St. Joseph Hospital Comprehensive Breast Center in the city of Orange in Orange County California.
It is a good question, “Are mammograms dangerous?” The answer is no. The amount of radiation therapy for doing four views, two on each side of the breast, that a woman would receive is frankly less than if she flew across country on a flight today. Do we avoid mammograms in younger women? Yes, we do. We would certainly avoid them completely in developing breasts in teenagers and what have you, but women should not think of them as being dangerous.
One of the potential advantages of digital mammography is that the amount of radiation is slightly lower, but we also need slightly less compression. One of the things that keeps women from getting mammograms is the fear of compression. Particularly women who have had breast augmentation and breast implants put in, they are really scared that somehow the compression will rupture their implant, and I suppose that is possible, and there are reported cases of that happening, but with a little less compression with the digital mammograms, I am having patients tell me now that they are really more comfortable when the digital mammograms are done. Also, the technologist is reading the films right there on the screen in the room and does have to run off to a film processor, and so it's a much more sort of efficient system, and then jokingly I always remind my patients that mammograms were clearly developed by a man.
About Dr. Harness. M.D.:
Dr. Jay Harness is the Director at St. Joseph Hospital Comprehensive Breast Center. Practicing medicine for 35 years, Dr. Harness specializes in general surgery and medical oncology. Graduating medical school from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, he conducting his internship and residency at the University of Michigan Medical Center. Recognized nationally and internationally for his work in breast and endocrine surgery, Dr. Harness is the immediate past-President of The American Society of Breast Surgeons and is President-elect of Breast Surgery International. Dr. Harness can assist patients in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
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