Mammography or a mammogram is a specialized imaging technique and is an important screening tool for the early detection of breast cancer. Most women are unaware of the importance of getting regular mammograms done.
This October, during the #BreastCancerAwareness month, let’s read about mammograms and their significance.
What is Mammography?
Mammography is a specific type of breast imaging that uses low-dose x-rays to detect early signs of breast cancer.
This test helps detect breast cancer at an early stage, even before symptoms appear, at a stage when it can be easily treated. Also, the procedure involves less radiation than a typical x-ray and creates a detailed image of the breast(s).
How is a Mammogram Done?
For the exam, you will be asked to stand in front of an x-ray machine and your breasts will be placed on a plastic plate in front. Another plate will firmly press your breasts from above to compress them and hold them in place while the x-ray is being taken.
This helps even out the breast thickness so that all the tissues are clearly visible. You will be asked to change positions between images.
The routine views are a top-to-bottom and an angled side view. The steps will be repeated for the other breast.
Once the examination is complete, the technologist will ask you to wait until the radiologist confirms that all the necessary images have been recorded.
Are Mammograms Uncomfortable?
Mammograms may be a bit uncomfortable. However, as the procedure is short, the discomfort lasts only for a short while. It also depends on the skill of the technologist and the size of your breasts.
You can choose a time after your period so that your breasts are not sensitive. Before or during your period, the breasts are generally tender or swollen.
Who Interprets The Results?
A radiologist, a doctor trained in supervising and interpreting radiology examinations will analyze the images. Once the report is generated, it will be sent to your consulting doctor who will discuss the results with you.
If the results are normal, you can continue with your regular mammograms. It works best when they can be compared with previous mammograms.
If any abnormalities were found, you might require additional mammograms and other tests to confirm the diagnosis.
How Can Regular Mammograms Help?
A mammogram can detect cancer around 1 to 2 years before any symptoms or lumps are felt physically.
Early detection makes it more probable for the patient to get rid of cancer before it spreads.
It helps reduce breast cancer-related mortality rates.
It is recommended that women above the age of 40 should undergo a mammogram annually or at least once in two years.
Consult your gynaecologist to get a better idea of how often you will require a mammogram and what are factors to consider.
Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.