Mammography is an x-ray picture that detects breast cancer in women. The pictures produced are known as mammograms. The goal of this test is to diagnose the disease in the early stages, before the onset of any symptoms. This test is performed by placing the breast between two plates and with the help of X-ray imaging trying to find any abnormalities. This test is performed by a radiologist. There are two types of diagnostic mammogram – unilateral and bilateral. Unilateral diagnostic mammograms i.e. Mammography U/L includes examining only one breast.
There are two types of mammograms:
It is recommended for the following reasons:
If the screening mammogram shows microcalcifications.
If a person feels a lump in the breast.
Procedure of the Test:
In the mammography test, the patient is asked to remove all jewelry as it may interact with the images.
The patient is requested to remove clothes above the waist and wear a paper gown. The patient is supposed to stand throughout the test.
The mammography machine comes with handles that the patient can grasp which helps him or her to remain still. Sitting mammography can be conducted for patients who cannot stand. When the test begins, the technician will help in placing the women’s breast between two plates. These plates are compressed and the breast is squeezed, post which the mammography images are taken.
If a patient experiences discomfort, then she should inform her doctor. The doctor may reposition the breast for the patient’s convenience.
In this process, the doctor will review the images and may order other images showing different views. The doctor may provide additional views such as cleavage views and spot compression to get a proper image of the breast.
Once the mammogram is over, the doctor may ask the patient until he or she reviews the images. But, in most cases, a report is sent to the physician who will notify the results.
Why get tested?
It is also recommended for those who are at a higher risk of having breast cancer. A mammogram is also performed as a diagnostic test for those individuals who develop the following symptoms:
A breast lump or a lump in the underarm
Swelling in the breast
Change in the shape and size of the breast
Heaviness or tenderness in one breast
Redness or irritation in the nipple or the breast.
Itching in the breast
Pain in the breast
It is important to consider that a mammogram should be recommended for both men and women. Men can also develop breast cancer, although it is most prevalent in females.
This test includes
The patient should discuss with their doctor if they are experiencing any symptoms in their breast. Women should inform the doctor if they are breastfeeding or pregnant. In both cases, the doctor will suggest postponing this test.
Patients are advised to follow the below-mentioned guidelines:
Avoid taking caffeine a week before the date of the test.
One should avoid taking over-the-counter medicine on the day of the test.
One should not wear deodorants, powders, and perfumes.
Avoid the application of ointments on the breast and near the underarms. These substances can destroy the image; hence, it is important to avoid it.
Women are advised to schedule the test within 2 weeks after the menstrual cycle ends.
Frequently asked questions
Q.At what age women should go for screening mammography?
Women who are at average risk of breast cancer, screening mammography is recommended every 1-2 years in the early 40s. But, if a person does not start screening at the age of 40, they should start having mammography by the time they reach 50 years of age. It should continue until the age of 75 years.
Q.Does screening mammography gives accurate result?
No, mammography does not give an accurate result. It may misdiagnose the absence of cancer even when it is present. If the results do not show cancer, but the patient has cancer, it is called a false-negative result. These results can cause a delay in the treatment.
This test may show something that can be thought of as cancer, but when the results of follow-up tests are read, the patient may not have cancer. It is called a false-positive result.