What Is a Mammogram?
Mammograms are the most effective testing doctors have for detecting breast cancer early. A mammogram is a cross-sectional X-ray image of the breast. Doctors use mammograms to detect early indications of breast cancer. Mammograms are the most effective testing doctors have for early detection of breast cancer, often up to three years before symptoms appear.
Although mammography cannot conclusively determine if an atypical region is cancerous, the tissue will be taken for biopsy if it raises a reasonable suspicion of malignancy. To detect if tissue is cancerous, it may be removed through needle biopsy or open surgical biopsy and inspected under a microscope.
Advances in Mammograms
For 30 years, mammography has been used to detect breast cancer. Technological improvements have significantly enhanced both the procedure and outcomes during the last 15 years.
Today, specialized equipment used just for breast X-rays delivers high-quality yet low-radiation-dose examinations. Radiation hazards are regarded as insignificant. The advancement of digital mammography technology enables better breast imaging, especially for women under 50, women with thick breast tissue, and women in the pre-or perimenopausal stage.
Digital mammography generates electronic pictures of the breasts that may be improved using computer technology, saved on computers, and even sent electronically in the event that distant access to the mammogram is necessary. Digital mammography is conducted in the same manner as conventional mammography.
Why have a mammogram?
Mammography can be used to test for breast cancer or to diagnose it. Women over the age of 30 should have diagnostic mammography if they have palpable lumps, thickening or indentation of the breast skin, nipple discharge or retraction, erosive nipple sore, or breast discomfort.
When physical examination and history are inconclusive, mammography may be performed to assess breast discomfort. Women with thick, “lumpy,” and extremely big breasts may be screened by mammography, as the physical examination may be challenging.
Women who are at high risk or who have a family history may undergo regular mammography screening. Additionally, your health care physician may suggest mammography for other reasons.
Two types of Mammograms: Screening and Diagnostic
Mammogram for screening – Screening mammography is an X-ray of the breast used to identify breast abnormalities in women who do not have breast cancer symptoms or indications. Typically, two X-rays of each breast are taken. With mammography, it is possible to identify a tumor that cannot be felt.
Mammogram for diagnostic purposes – Diagnostic mammography is a breast X-ray used to detect atypical breast changes such as a lump, discomfort, nipple thickening or discharge, or a change in breast size or form. Additionally, diagnostic mammography is utilized to assess abnormalities discovered during a screening mammogram. It is a fundamental medical tool suited for evaluating breast alterations in women of any age.
Both types of mammography are performed on the same equipment. Diagnostic mammography, on the other hand, takes longer to conduct than screening mammography. The overall radiation dosage is increased because more x-ray pictures are required to acquire several perspectives of the breast. The technician may enlarge a questionable region to provide a detailed image that will assist the doctor in accurately diagnosing the patient.
What is the procedure for a mammogram?
You will be placed in front of specialized X-ray equipment. Your breast will be placed on a plastic plate by a technician. Another plate will apply pressure on your breasts from above. The plates will flatten the breast and stabilize them during the X-ray. You will feel some pressure.
These procedures are repeated to create a side view of the breast. The opposite breast will be X-rayed similarly. You will next wait while the technician examines the four X-rays to verify no further images are required. Bear in mind that the technician is unable to inform you of the outcome of your mammography. Each woman’s mammography will seem somewhat different because of the unique nature of her breasts.
What is the sensation associated with a mammogram?
For the majority of women, having a mammogram is unpleasant. It is painful for some ladies. However, mammography takes a few seconds, and the pain is brief. What you feel is determined by the technician’s competence, the size of your breasts, and the amount of pressing required. If you are about to start or have your period, your breasts may be more sensitive. A physician will read the mammography with specialized training known as a radiologist. They will examine the X-ray for early indications of breast cancer or other conditions.
Suggestions when getting a Mammogram
Do not have mammography in the week leading up to or just after your period. At that point, your breasts may be painful or swollen.
- Avoid using deodorant, perfume, or powder on the day of your mammography. These substances may appear as white dots on an X-ray.
- Instead of a dress, some ladies prefer to wear a top with a skirt or pants. You will need to disrobe completely from the waist up for the mammography.
When will the findings of my mammogram be available?
Generally, you will receive the findings within a few weeks, although this varies per institution. A radiologist reads your mammogram and then informs you and your doctor of the results. If there is cause for worry, you will be notified sooner by the mammography institution. If you do not get a report of your mammography findings within 30 days, contact your health care physician or the mammography facility.
What if my mammography results are normal?
Maintain recommended mammography intervals of annual testing. Mammograms are most effective when compared to prior ones. This enables the radiologist to compare them in order to determine if your breasts have changed.
What if my mammogram results are abnormal?
Abnormal mammography may not always indicate the presence of cancer. However, further mammograms, tests, or exams will be required before the doctor can be certain. Additionally, you may be sent to a breast surgeon or specialist. This may not always indicate you have cancer or require surgery. These physicians are breast cancer specialists. Follow-up tests will be performed to identify breast cancer or to rule out the presence of malignancy.