Experts recommend women undergo yearly mammograms beginning at age 40 to check for breast cancer.
During the month of October, KRIS 6 News Anchor Jennifer Lira will have a series of reports on breast cancer in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
This week, she's looking into the importance of yearly mammograms.
Radiology Dr. David Saldana specializes in thoracic and breast imaging at Radiology & Imaging of South Texas. He has spent countless hours reviewing thousands of breast images -- looking for cancer.
He says the more advanced 3-D mammogram screening known as tomosynthesis has taken cancer detection to the next level, "Because we're actually getting a better look at the breast," he said.
The tomosynthesis machine captures multiple images of the breast at different angles, giving physicians like Dr. Saldana a better picture of the breast tissue.
"We can see it in finer detail," said Dr. Saldana. "Which is why we're finding smaller cancers and our recall rate is reducing."
Experts recommend women undergo yearly mammograms beginning at age 40. However, mammograms have a reputation for being uncomfortable or painful.
"You hear horror stories," said mammography technologist Terri Jolly of Radiology & Imaging of South Texas.
Jolly has performed mammograms for over 20 years. She admits the breast compression procedure can be uncomfortable, but the process is quick.
"I have women that come in everyday. I had one that came in yesterday and she looked at me and she said -- 'That's it? That's the mammogram?' I said yes ma'am. She goes, 'I heard it was horrible. She said -- this is nothing,'" Jolly said.
Despite the discomfort, it's important to get yearly mammograms to allow doctors to look for even the slightest change from year to year. Every experience is different but a few minutes of discomfort will give doctors the upper hand in finding breast cancer.
"So the more you do to take care of yourself, small screening tests, the better off you stand," said Dr. Saldana.