Mammography uses low doses of X-rays to make an image of the inside of the breast. It’s used to detect masses deep within the breast tissue. These masses can be benign or malignant. A mammogram can detect lumps before they’re large enough to be felt during a breast exam. It’s also used to aid diagnosis of lumps. A trained radiologist can recognize normal breast anatomy as it appears on a mammogram as well as any defects or variations from the norm. Radiation risks are considered negligible and the benefits of early detection of tumors far outweighs any potential risk.
HOW A MAMMOGRAM WORKS
Your breast may be examined by your doctor or technologist before positioning it in the mammogram machine. You will then be asked to stand or sit depending upon the type of equipment being used. One breast will be X-rayed at a time. During the test, your breasts will be firmly pressed between two pieces of plastic. This may be slightly uncomfortable, but it’s necessary to view all the breast tissue.
WHEN SHOULD YOU HAVE A MAMMOGRAM?
- The American Cancer Society recommends:
- one baseline mammogram between the ages of 35 and 40.
- an annual mammogram after age 40.
WHERE SHOULD YOU HAVE A MAMMOGRAM DONE?
A mammogram can be performed in a doctor’s office, a local hospital or a diagnostic center. Wherever you go, it’s important to make sure it’s an accredited FDA-certified and ACR-certified mammography test center with an experienced radiologist and certified technicians.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KEEP IN MIND
- Schedule your mammogram for the week after you begin your period, your breasts will be less tender then.
- If you suspect you’re pregnant, tell your doctor or technologist before the procedure.
- Avoid using powder, deodorant or perfume under your arms or in the breast area.
- Wear a sweater or blouse instead of a dress as you will only need to be undressed from the waist up.