A mammogram is an X-ray image of your breasts wont to screen for carcinoma. Mammograms play a key role in early carcinoma detection and help decrease carcinoma deaths.
During a mammogram, your breasts are compressed between two firm surfaces to open up the breast tissue. Then an X-ray captures black-and-white images of your breasts that are displayed on a display screen and examined by a doctor who looks for signs of cancer.
A mammogram is often used either for screening or for diagnostic purposes. How often you ought to have a mammogram depends on your age and your risk of carcinoma.
Why it's done
Mammography is X-ray imaging of your breasts designed to detect tumors and other abnormalities. Mammography is often used either for screening or for diagnostic purposes in evaluating a breast lump:
Screening mammography - Screening mammography is employed to detect breast changes in women who haven't any signs or symptoms or new breast abnormalities. The goal is to detect cancer before clinical signs are noticeable.
Diagnostic mammography - Diagnostic mammography is employed to research suspicious breast changes, like a replacement breast lump, breast pain, an unusual skin appearance, nipple thickening or nipple discharge. It's also wont to evaluate abnormal findings on a screening mammogram. A diagnostic mammogram includes additional mammogram images.
When to begin screening mammography
There is no ideal age to start out screening for carcinoma. Further, experts and medical organizations don't agree on when women should begin regular mammograms or how often the tests should be performed.
Talk together with your doctor about your risk factors, your preferences, and therefore the benefits and risks of screening. Together, you'll decide what screening mammography schedule is best for you.
Some general guidelines for when to start screening mammography include:
Women with an average risk of breast cancer - Many women begin mammograms at age 40 and have them all to 2 years. Professional groups differ on their recommendations. The American Cancer Society advises women with a mean risk to start screening mammograms yearly at age 45 until age 54, then continue every two years. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends women start screening every two years starting at age 50 until age 74. However, these groups agree that ladies can prefer to be screened starting at age 40.
Women with a high risk of breast cancer - Women with a high risk of carcinoma may benefit by beginning screening mammograms before age 40. Talk to your doctor about evaluating your individual risk of breast cancer. Your risk factors, like a case history of carcinoma or a history of precancerous breast lesions, may lead your doctor to recommend resonance imaging (MRI) in combination with mammograms.
Risks and limitations of mammograms include:
Mammograms expose you to low-dose radiation - The dose is extremely low, though, and for many women the advantages of normal mammograms outweigh the risks posed by this amount of radiation.
Mammograms aren't always accurate - The accuracy of the procedure depends partially on the technique used and therefore the experience and skill of the radiologist. Other factors — like your age and breast density — may end in false-negative or false-positive mammograms.
Mammograms in younger women can be difficult to interpret - The breasts of younger ladies contain more glands and ligaments than do those of older women, leading to dense breast tissue which will obscure signs of cancer. With age, breast tissue becomes fattier and has fewer glands, making it easier to interpret and detect changes on mammograms.
Having a mammogram may lead to additional testing - Among women of all ages, about 10 percent of mammograms require additional testing, including additional imaging tests like ultrasound, and a procedure (biopsy) to get rid of a sample of breast tissue for laboratory testing. However, most abnormal findings detected on mammograms aren't cancer.
If you're told that your mammogram is abnormal, your radiologist will want to match it with previous mammograms. If you have had mammograms performed elsewhere, your radiologist will ask for your permission to have them sent to the radiology center so that they can be compared with the current mammogram.
Screening mammography can't detect all cancers - Some cancers detected by physical examination might not be seen on the mammogram. A cancer could also be too small or could also be in a neighborhood that's difficult to look at by mammography, like your armpit. Mammograms can miss 1 in 5 cancers in women.
Not all of the tumors found by mammography can be cured - Certain sorts of cancers are aggressive, grow rapidly and spread early to other parts of your body.
How you prepare
To prepare for your mammogram:
Choose a certified mammogram facility - Ask whether the mammogram facility is certified by the Food and Drug Administration. This certification will make sure that the power meets certain standards.
Schedule the test for a time when your breasts are least likely to be tender - If you haven't gone through menopause, that's usually during the week after your menstrual period. Your breasts are presumably to be tender the week before and therefore the week during your period.
Bring your prior mammogram images - If you are going to a replacement facility for your mammogram, request to possess any prior mammograms placed on a CD. Bring the CD with you to your appointment in order that the radiologist can compare past mammograms together with your new images.
Don't use deodorant before your mammogram - Avoid using deodorants, antiperspirants, powders, lotions, creams or perfumes under your arms or on your breasts. Metallic particles in powders and deodorants might be visible on your mammogram and cause confusion.
Consider an over-the-counter pain medication if you find that having a mammogram is uncomfortable - Taking an over-the-counter pain medication, like aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), about an hour before your mammogram might ease the discomfort of the test.
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