A mammogram is
X-ray test of the
breasts (mammary glands) used to screen for breast
problems, such as a lump, and whether a lump is fluid-filled (a
cyst) or a solid mass.
A mammogram is
done to help screen for or detect
breast cancer. Many small tumors can be seen on a
mammogram before they can be felt by a woman or her doctor. Cancer
is most easily treated and cured when it is discovered in an early stage.
Mammograms do not prevent breast cancer or reduce a woman's risk of developing
cancer. But regular mammograms can reduce a woman's risk of dying from breast
cancer by detecting a cancer when it is more easily treated.
Your doctor may recommend testing at a younger age if you have risk factors for breast cancer.
- Breast Cancer Screening: When Should I Start Having Mammograms?
A mammogram that appears to detect a cancer, when in fact a
cancer is not present (false-positive results), can occur at
any age but is more likely to occur in younger women. About 5% to 10% of
screening mammograms will require more testing. This may include another
mammogram of specific breast tissue or another test, such as
ultrasound. Most of these tests will show no cancer is
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Why It Is Done
mammogram is done to:
- Screen for breast cancer in women without
- Detect breast cancer in women with symptoms. Symptoms of
breast cancer may include a lump or thickening in the breast, nipple discharge,
or dimpling of the skin on one area of the breast.
- Locate an area
of suspicious breast tissue to remove for examination under a microscope
(biopsy) when an abnormality is found.
How To Prepare
If you have previously had a mammogram
done at another clinic, have the results sent or bring them with you to your
Tell your doctor if you:
- Are or might be pregnant. A mammogram is an
X-ray test with exposure to low-dose radiation and is not done for routine
screening during pregnancy.
- Are breast-feeding. A mammogram may not
provide clear results in breasts that contain milk.
- Have breast
implants. Breast implants require a modified mammogram method.
previously had a breast biopsy. Knowing the location of scar tissue will help
radiologist read your mammogram accurately.
On the day of the mammogram, do not use any deodorant,
perfume, powders, or ointments on your breasts. The residue left on your skin
by these substances may interfere with the X-rays.
If you are
still having menstrual periods, you may want to have your mammogram done within
2 weeks after your menstrual period ends. The procedure will be more
comfortable, especially if your breasts become tender before your period