A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast. It can be used to check for breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease. It can also be used if you have a lump or other sign of breast cancer.
Screening mammography is the type of mammogram that checks you when you have no symptoms. It can help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer among women ages 40 to 70. But it can also have drawbacks. Mammograms can sometimes find something that looks abnormal but isn’t cancer. This leads to further testing and can cause you anxiety. Sometimes mammograms can miss cancer when it is there. It also exposes you to radiation. You should talk to your doctor about the benefits and drawbacks of mammograms. Together, you can decide when to start and how often to have a mammogram.
Mammograms are also recommended for younger women who have symptoms of breast cancer or who have a high risk of the disease.
When you have a mammogram, you stand in front of an x-ray machine. The person who takes the x-rays places your breast between two plastic plates. The plates press your breast and make it flat. This may be uncomfortable, but it helps get a clear picture.
A mammogram is an important step in taking care of yourself and your breasts. Whether you’re a mammogram newbie or a veteran, knowing what to expect may help the process go more smoothly.
There are two types of mammograms: screening and diagnostic. Click here to learn more about the differences between the two.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), here are tips to follow when preparing for a mammogram:
- If you have a choice, use a facility that specializes in mammograms and does many mammograms a day.
- Try to go to the same facility every time so that your mammograms can easily be compared from year to year.
- If you’re going to a facility for the first time, bring a list of the places and dates of mammograms, biopsies, or other breast treatments you’ve had before.
- If you’ve had mammograms at another facility, try to get those records to bring with you to the new facility (or have them sent there) so the old pictures can be compared to the new ones.
- Schedule your mammogram when your breasts are not tender or swollen to help reduce discomfort and get good pictures. Try to avoid the week just before your period.
- On the day of the exam, don’t wear deodorant or antiperspirant. Some of these contain substances that can show up on the x-ray as white spots. If you’re not going home afterwards, you may want to take your deodorant with you to put on after your exam.
- You might find it easier to wear a skirt or pants, so that you’ll only need to remove your top and bra for the mammogram.
- Discuss any new findings or problems in your breasts with your health care provider before getting the mammogram.
Mammography and Dense Breast Tissue
Breasts are made up of fat and non-fatty glandular and connective breast tissue. Some women have more fat than breast tissue, while others have more breast tissue than fat. Breasts that have higher proportion of the glandular tissue are described as “dense.”
We at Diagnostic Imaging Services understand the anxiety and stress that can be felt when preparing to undergo a mammogram. However, according to the ACS, only 2 to 4 screening mammograms in 1,000 lead to a diagnosis of breast cancer.
DIS performs both conventional 2D digital mammography and Genius 3D mammography, also known as breast tomosynthesis. We offer convenient Saturday morning screening mammogram appointments at our Metairie – Veterans Memorial Boulevard center, a breast imaging center of excellence.