Five Aspects You Should Know about Mammograms

Overview

A mammogram refers to a low-dose x-ray exam of the breasts to examine any abnormal changes and screening. Breast changes can occur in almost all women. These changes usually are small that cannot be felt. Although most of changes are not cancer that we call it benign, we need doctors to diagnose. Regular mammograms are the best methods to find breast cancer (sometimes it cannot be felt until three years).

Types

There are two types of mammograms: screening mammograms and diagnostic mammograms.

Screening mammograms are for women who have no symptoms of breast cancer. This type of mammogram can detect lumps or tumors that cannot be felt. Screening mammograms usually involve x-rays of each breast.

Diagnostic mammograms are used to check for breast cancer after a lump or other symptom of breast cancer has been found. A diagnostic mammogram needs more time than a screening mammogram because it involves more x-rays in order to obtain views of the breast from several angles. It can be magnified to give a more detailed picture, which is helpful to doctors make a correct diagnosis.

Benefits & Risks

The benefit of mammograms is finding cancer early when cancer is easier to treat. Sometimes mammograms can save lives if women have a mammogram yearly.

Mammograms actually have several risks, including:

  • False-positive results
  • Overdiagnosis and overtreatment.
  • False-negative results.
  • Radiation exposure.
  • Pain (in some cases)

BI-RADS

The American College of Radiology (ACR) has established a uniform way for radiologists to describe mammogram findings. The system, called BI-RADS, includes seven standardized categories. It makes radiologists to communicate results to the referring physician clearly and consistently, with a final assessment and specific management recommendations.

What you should notice before you have a mammogram?

Avoid making your mammogram appointment during the week before your period.

If you have breast implants, be sure to tell your doctors when you make your appointment.

Wear a shirt with shorts, pants, or a skirt so that you can take off your shirt from the waist when you get the mammogram.

Don’t use any deodorant, perfume, lotion, or powder under your arms or on your breasts on the day of your mammogram appointment. (These things can make shadows on the mammogram.)

If you have mammograms before, you can take them to the place you have the new appointment in order to have a comparison.

Please talk to your doctors for your needs.

Keywords: mammogram; breast cancer; breast cancer screening.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.