Mammography

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Mammography is a screening tool for breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women. It is second only to skin cancer.

Mammography is important because in its earliest stages breast cancer may not be palpable; it may be too small to feel as a lump or tissue change.

What is Mammography?

Mammography is a specific type of imaging that uses a low-dose x-ray system to examine breasts. A mammography exam, called a mammogram, is used to aid in the early detection and diagnosis of breast diseases in women.

What are some common uses of the procedure?

Mammograms are used as a screening tool to detect early breast cancer in women experiencing no symptoms. It can also be used to detect and diagnose breast disease in women experiencing symptoms such as a lump, pain or nipple discharge.

How should I prepare?

Do not schedule your mammogram for the week before your period if your breasts are usually tender during this time. The best time for a mammogram is one week following your period. Always inform your doctor or x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that you are pregnant.

Advantages of Digital Mammograms

However, digital mammography is now available, allowing for the radiologist to capture and manipulate the images so abnormalities can be seen more easily.

For example, in women with dense fibrocystic breast tissue, their breasts appear white on a mammogram. Complicating this is that tumors are also white. But with digital mammograms, the radiologist can manipulate the contrast of the images, making them darker or lighter, allowing for the masses to be identified.

On the day:

Please do not wear any talcum powder or deodorant as this may show up as an abnormality on your mammogram

Risks

Mammograms have been shown to lower the risk of dying from breast cancer by 35% in women over the age of 50.