FLU VACCINE 2024 IS NOW AVAILABLE
Wells Road Medical Centre

Mammogram: Breast Screening for Abnormal Findings

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers experienced by women worldwide, making early detection crucial. One of the recommended screening tests is a mammogram.

Mammograms are specialised X-rays designed to detect any unusual changes or lumps in breast tissue that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Considering taking this test? Let’s explore the things you should know about this life-saving screening tool. We’ll cover how it works, the various types and their preparation steps, and also weigh the benefits against the risks. Read on!

What is a Mammogram?

A mammography breast screening device in a hospital laboratory
A mammography breast screening device in a hospital laboratory

A mammogram is an early breast cancer screening that uses a low-dose X-ray to reveal changes in breast tissue that is not found by a physical exam.

This test is usually for women who show no signs or symptoms of breast cancer. It’s also crucial for diagnosing patients with a breast lump (diagnostic mammogram).

What are the Different Types of Mammograms?

A doctor preparing a 3D X-ray mammography machine
A doctor preparing a 3D X-ray mammography machine

There are two types of  mammogram:

Digital Mammograms

Digital mammography uses digital detectors to capture and store breast images electronically. It is faster than traditional methods and allows doctors to adjust the image to see more clearly, helping them to spot and diagnose breast cancer more effectively.

Digital mammograms are especially good for screening dense breasts and implants. In addition to this, the images can be easily saved, shared, and reviewed.

3D Mammograms

Also known as tomosynthesis, this test type is significantly more effective than the 2D one. It shows more detailed results from multiple angles, which helps radiologists see a 3D result instead of just a two-dimensional mammogram result.

According to the research, this test type is specifically good for breasts with high-density tissue.

How Should I Prepare for a Mammogram?

A woman with no neck or ear jewellery
A woman with no neck or ear jewellery

The American National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. shows a preparation guide for someone planning to take the mammogram test.

The first step is choosing the healthcare facility in which you’ll take the test:

  1. Choose the right facility for you that provides specialised mammograms.
  2. Pick a schedule where your breasts’ condition is at its most tender state.
  3. Compile any necessary documents (including previous mammogram images) if available.

Before the day of the test, please ensure you follow these rules:

  • Do not wear any neck or ear jewellery.
  • Do not apply any products to your breasts, underarms, and chest area (including creams, lotions, powders, deodorants, cosmetics, perfumes, and antiperspirants).
  • Wear comfortable shoes and a two-piece outfit if possible.
  • You can take any daily medication—pain medication is also recommended.
  • Eat, drink, and shower as normal.
  • Inform your doctor about your breast condition and your mammogram.

What Happens During My Mammogram?

A doctor assisting her patient undergoing a mammogram X-ray test
A doctor assisting her patient undergoing a mammogram X-ray test

The first thing to do during your mammogram session is to undress yourself from the waist up.

Next, the radiographer (or X-ray technician) will compress each breast between two plates to take quick X-ray images, usually two pictures per breast. While this may be uncomfortable, it is done quickly, so you will need to stay still until the machine is removed and the test is complete.

What are the Benefits vs. Risks?

A doctor examining a mammogram test to make sure there is no false positives
A doctor examining a mammogram test to make sure there is no false positives

Based on the research, some benefits of mammography screening are reduced mortality, reduced years of life lost, and reduced treatment morbidity.

Other benefits include little to no side effects and an increase in small tumour detection.

On the other hand, the risks include overdiagnosis, false positives, anxiety, and potential radiation injury.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do mammograms hurt?

Mammograms can be uncomfortable, but they usually don’t hurt.

How long does a mammogram take?

A mammogram typically takes about 20 to 30 minutes.

Are mammograms safe?

Yes, mammograms are safe. They use a low dose of radiation for a short time.

Conclusion

Mammograms are a critical tool in the early detection of breast cancer. They offer a quick, safe, and effective way to screen for abnormalities, using advanced technology to provide clear images.

Whether opting for a digital or a 3D mammogram, preparation is simple and the benefits are substantial. Despite minor discomfort and low risks, the potential to save lives through early detection cannot be overstated.

For tailored care and advanced screening, visit Wells Road Medical Centre. Schedule your mammogram and consult with our women’s health experts today!