If you are a woman over 40, it is highly recommended that you visit a doctor every year and get a mammogram. A lot of women are apprehensive about their first mammogram, but getting one should be a priority because the procedure could save your life.
A mammography, or mammogram, is an X-ray examination of the breasts used to detect signs of breast cancer. A mammography can detect early signs of breast cancer before any pain or lumps appear. Early detection is the best defense of breast cancer.
A mammogram can help doctors see if abnormal tissue is present in the breasts. However, it cannot be used to show that abnormal tissue is cancerous.
Although a mammography cannot show the health of breast tissue, it does give doctors a view of the area. Doctors may order additional testing or a biopsy of the tissue if cancer is suspected.
Types of Mammography
There are two types of mammography that may be performed: screening or diagnostic.
A screening mammogram is used for women who have no symptoms of breast problems. A screening mammogram usually takes two pictures of each breast from different angles. The procedure is used for early detection of breast cancer.
A diagnostic mammogram is used for women who have symptoms of breast disease such as abnormal discharge, pain, or lumps. It is also used if a screening mammogram shows abnormal tissue.
A diagnostic mammogram takes additional X-rays of each breast to study the abnormal area. Some of the pictures may be enlarged for a closer look. Diagnostic mammograms can give doctors further evidence of whether or not an area may be cancerous. After a diagnostic mammogram, a patient may be advised to have a biopsy of the abnormal tissue or another mammography procedure in a few months.
The Mammography Procedure
When preparing for your mammography, it is advised that you do not wear deodorant as it can affect the X-rays. Try to schedule your appointment after menstruation when your breasts are not tender or swollen. You will have to remove your brassiere and shirt for the procedure, so dresses are not advised. Talk to your doctor if you are breastfeeding or think you might be pregnant.
A mammography usually takes about 20 minutes. After you undress, you will be given a gown to wear. You will then be taken to the X-ray room.
The technician will help position one of your breasts between two flat plates. You will feel pressure as the plates compress your breasts. This is done to make the X-ray area thinner and easier to photograph. The technician will take two or more pictures of each breast.
Find Cancer Early
A mammography is a fantastic tool for detecting early signs of breast cancer. Although your first mammography can be a little intimidating, with a little knowledge and preparation, the procedure will be over before you know it.
You should receive your mammography results within a week. From there, your doctor may give you a clean bill of health or order additional tests. Studies show that only 10 percent of women who return for additional testing are actually diagnosed with breast cancer.
It is highly recommend that women over 40 have a mammography procedure every year. Remember, early detection is the best defense.
Yassin and the staff at BRITSystems, Inc. in Dallas understand the medical imaging needs of today’s health care professionals. They design cost-effective technologies that help doctors to expediently diagnose and treat patients. Since 1993, BRIT Systems has been a trusted leader in the digital imaging industry.