What is Mammography? Mammogram: Procedure & Risks

What is Mammography?
Mammography is a test done using low energy X-rays for examination of the human breast. It is used as a diagnostic and screening tool. Mammogram helps in early detection of breast tumors, thereby enabling early treatment which is aimed at cure.  While this examination doesn’t prevent cancer, it is advisable for women to get it done regularly for timely diagnosis of breast cancer development. Mammography has helped reduce the death rates from breast cancer.

If you are 40 or older, it is highly recommended that you get mammograms done. Your doctor might suggest you to do them at a younger age if you are considered as high risk for breast cancer.

Why Get a Mammogram?
Mammography is used for mainly three purposes:
  • The early detection of breast cancer by checking regularly in healthy women.
  • If symptoms have been noticed, then to detect the stage and growth of breast cancer.
  • In case of uncertainty, testing abnormal lumps or tissue for breast cancer. 
Mammography Procedure
If you are pregnant or breast feeding, for example, the test could be inaccurate. Your doctor will also need to know if you’ve had any plastic surgery for breasts like breast implants or reduction done. These procedures will need a specific method of mammography to be done. If you have already undergone breast cancer surgery or mammography, inform your doctor.

When you are going in to get a mammogram done, do not use deodorant, powders or creams. These items can affect the accuracy of the x-rays. It is advisable to have a mammography done about two weeks after your menstrual cycle. It will give a more accurate result and prevent discomfort due to tenderness of breast during your menstrual cycle.

Although mammograms come with a lot of benefits, you need to be prepared that getting a mammography done doesn’t prevent you from developing breast cancer. In addition, a mammogram may show a result positive for breast cancer when it isn’t actually present. Or vice versa, where the cancer is developing but the test doesn’t pick it up. There is a slight risk also involved with being exposed to radiation.

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