The National Cancer Institute or NCI states that in the United States, breast cancer is among the most common types of cancer in women, second only to skin cancer. There are approximately 230,000 breast cancer cases in women every single year and 2,300 cases in men. A mammography, also commonly known as a mammogram, is basically an X-ray of the breasts. It is highly efficient in detecting and diagnosing breast cancer. Along with routine clinical checkups and breast self-exams every month, it is a critical component of early diagnosis and in turn, treatment of breast cancer.
When Should You Go In for a Mammogram?
According to the American Cancer Society or ACS, you should have regular breast screenings once you turn 45, while some cancer specialists suggest that women 40 years old and above must go in for a mammogram every once a year or once every two years. In the event that you have a family or personal history of breast cancer, specialists at Revere Health recommends beginning regular screenings earlier, undergo mammograms more regularly, and/or use other diagnostic imaging tools.
If you doctor recommends that you have a mammogram as a regular exam to see for any changes or cancer symptoms in your breast, this is simply the screening mammogram. During this mammogram, your doctor would take some X-rays of each of your breasts. In case your doctor finds a lump or other breast cancer symptoms, you would have to undergo a diagnostic mammogram. You might also require a diagnostic mammogram if you have implants in your breasts.
A diagnostic mammogram is significantly more comprehensive than regular screening mammograms and would normally need more X-rays in order to obtain more views of your breasts from different angles, says a radiology technician in American Fork. If the radiologist finds any cause for concern, he or she will magnify it for a better look.
More Vital Points to Consider
Keep in mind that you will feel substantial pressure on your breasts during a mammogram when the compression paddle squeezes them. That being said, if you have particularly sensitive breasts, you could schedule your mammogram when your breasts are least sensitive. You could also tell the radiology technician if you can’t take the pain, but take note that more compression will deliver better quality results.