Mammograms: What You Need To Know

Mammograms

A mammogram is an X-ray image of the human breast which helps diagnose cancer and other breast diseases as early as possible. It uses low energy X-rays for detection and diagnosis of breast diseases. Through the detection of micro calcifications or characteristic masses, mammography can detect breast cancer in its initial stage. Let look at the advantages and side effects of mammography and how often you should get screened.

There are different factors you need to think about before undergoing your first mammogram. You need to consider your age and your family history of cancer, especially breast cancer. Each of these factors has a role in the guidance. This exam can be done in people who may or may not have symptoms of breast cancer.

Does a Mammogram Cause Pain?

Mammograms have different effects on different people. Many women experience discomfort when the screening is being performed. The testing equipment exerts pressure on your breasts and that creates a slight discomfort, which is quite normal. Factors that impact the extent of pain include:

  • The timing of your test in relation to your menstrual cycle
  • The size of your breasts
  • Differences in positioning for the screening

Mammograms cannot prevent breast cancer, but can save lives by diagnosing the disease as early as possible.

Benefits of Getting a Mammogram

Early detection of disease always has positive impacts on the treatment and recovery.

  • It reduces the risk of death
  • It helps treat disease without chemotherapy, which uses heavy drugs to kill fast growing cancer cells.
  • It provides you with updated information about the health of your breasts

Limitations

Like others diagnostic tool, mammography has limitations:

  • Sometimes, it doesn’t show up some hidden breast tissues that spread breast cancer.
  • Mammograms are stressful

How Often Should You get a Mammogram?

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that:

  • Women ages 50-74 get a mammogram every two years.
  • Women ages 40-49 have mammograms every year.

Before the procedure you must talk with your radiologist or healthcare provider about your health conditions. Make sure you avoid applying perfumes, deodorants or talcum powders on your breasts or underarms on the day of the test.

A mammogram is the best imaging tool for diagnosing breast cancer. Getting a mammogram at the right time and early diagnosis of cancer can make a great difference in treatment and recovery.

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