Mammogram refers to an image produced by an X-ray that takes an impression of your breast. This image plays an important role in detecting early breast cancer and can save you from the fatal disease. Over the years, mammograms have helped considerably to reduce deaths due to breast cancer. While the X-ray image is being taken of your breasts, they are usually compressed between two rigid surfaces to stretch out the breast tissue. The word mammography, or mastography, refers to the procedure of examining your breast with the use of low energy X-rays; mammogram refers to the actual image. The mammogram is used as a screening and diagnostic tool.
So, here are 5 important things you should know about
- What is a mammogram?
This is the first question that will come to your mind. As noted above, it is an X-ray image of the human breast using a safe and low dose of radiation.
- Why should you go for a mammogram regularly?
This image helps in early screening of breast cancer. By detecting it at its initial stage, it is easier to treat successfully. By having mammograms regularly, you will have multiple X-ray images that can be compared with the earlier ones to identify any changes in them. Also, if you have a strong family history or high risk of ovarian cancer or breast cancer, it is recommended that you undergo mammography at around 30 years of age.
- Is a mammogram sufficient to detect breast cancer?
For the most part, the answer is yes. Although mammography is an effective screening process, this technique might not be able to determine 15-20% of breast cancers. In cases in which a tumor is suspected but cannot be detected, you should go for multiple screening tests to be certain about the development of the disease. You can opt for other screening tests, such as a clinical breast examination, a breast self-exam, an MRI, an ultrasound, etc. These can be used as complementary tools over and above mammography. However, there are no replacements or substitutes for the mammogram.
- What does it feel like to have a mammogram?
While the image is taken of your breast, you may feel a little pressure on your breast. The pressure will be similar to the blood pressure cuff used on arms. However, the pressure lasts for only a few seconds. There is nothing to be afraid of in this process as the discomfort level is minimal. Also, the process is safe as your breasts are exposed to only a small amount of radiation.
- How should you prepare for it?
On your appointment day, it’s better to wear two-piece outfits that can be easily removed for the X-ray. Avoid any kind of body lotions, antiperspirants, deodorants, perfume, talcum powders, metals, etc.
There are some early warning signs of breast cancer that can help you to detect breast cancer in its initial stage and alert you to go in for this preliminary diagnosis and screening. This can save you from a spreading of the cancer and protect you from the fatal form of the disease.
Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.