WHAT IS MAMMOGRAPHY?
This is simply taking an x-ray picture of the breast. The picture is called a MAMMOGRAM
It can be used to check for breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease. This is called screening mammography
It can also be used for women with lumps or other signs of breast cancer. This is called diagnostic mammography
Mammography can be done for males with symptoms of breast cancer though this is rare.
WHY THE SCREENING MAMMOGRAM IS PERFORMED?
Mammography is performed to screen women in order to detect early breast cancer when it is more likely to be cured.
WHO SHOULD HAVE A MAMMOGRAM?
- Women 40 years and above are advised to go for screening mammogram yearly or every two years.
- Women whose relative; mother, sister, or daughter have had breast cancer, stand a higher risk of getting it and it is even more important for them to get a mammogram.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT MAMMOGRAPHY?
- Mammography is not painful
- The best time for a mammogram is between days 9-11 of the woman’s cycle. This is because the breast has being noted to be less tender 7 days after menstruation, and also women are least likely to be pregnant at this time. For post menopausal woman any time is ok.
- Mammography is not advised for women with lesions, open wounds or who have had recent biopsy done on the breast.
WHAT DOES THE MAMMOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT LOOK LIKE?
A mammography unit is a rectangular box that houses the tube in which x-rays are produced.
The unit is used exclusively for x-ray exams of the breast, with special accessories that allow only the breast to be exposed to the x-rays. Attached to the unit is a device that holds and compresses the breast and positions it so images can be obtained at different angles.
WHAT PREPARATIONS ARE NEEDED FOR A MAMMOGRAM?
Women sensitive to caffeine should avoid it during the period of the mammogram. Caffeine has being noted to make the breast tenderer in some women thus making the test uncomfortable.
Powders, creams, oil, cosmetics ointments and deodorant should not be applied on the breast and under the arms on the day of the mammogram. These substances may affect the images.
The lady may be required to remove jewelry
THE MAMMOGRAPHY EXAMINATION
When you are having a mammogram, you are required to stand in front of a mammography
The radiographer (a medical professional trained for imaging examinations) places your breast between two plastic plates. The plates press the breast in order to flatten the breast tissue. This may be uncomfortable, but it helps get a clear picture.
HOW WILL THE TEST FEEL LIKE?
• The plastic compressor surfaces may feel cold.
• When the breast is pressed down, this may cause a level of discomfort but this need to be done to get good quality images.
• The level of radiation from the examination is low and therefore any risk from mammography is very low
• However routine screening mammography is not done during pregnancy.
• If there is a chance a woman is pregnant and in need of diagnostic mammography the doctor and radiographer should be informed.
You will be informed on when to come for the result. This may be at a later day.
• Breast tissue that shows no signs of a mass or calcification is considered normal.
Most abnormal findings on a screening mammogram turn out to be benign (not cancer) or nothing to worry about. New findings or changes must be further evaluated.
The doctor (radiologist) may see the following types of findings on a mammogram:
• A well-outlined, regular, clear spot (this is more likely to be a noncancerous condition such as a cyst)
• Masses or lumps
• Dense areas in the breast that can be breast cancer or hide breast cancer
• Calcifications, which are caused by tiny deposits of calcium in the breast tissue (most calcifications are not a sign of cancer).
• When mammogram or ultrasound results look suspicious, a biopsy is done to test the tissue and see if it is cancerous
For further questions, enquiries, diagnostic or screening mammography examinations please contact Lakeshore Cancer Center or any good clinic near you.