What is Mammogram?
A mammogram is a procedure wherein an x-ray image is created of your breast, which the doctor then uses to accurately identify and determine the breast disorders including cancer.
How Mammogram is Done?
A mammogram is done with the patient standing in front of the device, upon which the doctor or technician will position the breast onto a plastic plate. Another plate will then be placed above the breast, applying a little pressure. This holds the breast still and flat as the x-ray images are being created. This process is repeated to obtain the side view of the breast, as well as the same for the other breast.
Who is it for?
- Mammograms are usually recommended for women above the age of 40 as the tissues tend to get less dense with age. For those women aged between 40 to 49, the suggested screening schedule would be once every year.
- For women above the age of 50, the suggested frequency of mammograms is once every two years, unless recommended otherwise by your doctor.
Pre Procedure requirement for Mammogram?
- It is advised to not schedule your mammogram session a week before your period, as breasts tend to get swollen during those days and can affect your results.
- On the day of your mammogram, is it advised to not wear perfume, deodorant or powder, as they appear as white spots on the x-rays and can affect the overall readings.
- It is also advised to wear comfortable clothes, such as a top and skirt or jeans instead of a dress, as you will be required to undress from the waist up.
Asymmetric Density, Microcalcifications, Stromal Distortion The above terminologies describe abnormalities seen on a mammogram. They do not necessarily mean that it is a sign of cancer. However, it requires further investigations as advised by the breast surgeon. This may involve additional imaging such as specialised mammographic views of the abnormality. Ultrasound scans or MRI scans of the breast may be advised as necessary. A biopsy of the abnormality may be required in a small percentage of patients with such abnormal imaging.
2D MAMMOGRAM SCREENING
This is the standard screening tool for breast cancer. A mammogram is advised for women above 40 years of age. Frequent anomalies which can be picked up by mammogram are described below.
3D MAMMOGRAM (TOMOSYNTHESIS)
This is the newest method in breast cancer screening. It uses a 3D imaging of the breast unlike the traditional mammography which is a 2D technique. Hence it is more sensitive in detecting anomalies especially useful in dense breasts. Hence it also reduces the chance of false positive results which 2D mammography often has, requiring additional imaging or even biopsies.
As younger women tend to have denser breasts it is a tool which is better utilized for this group of women and also women who are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
It still requires compression of the breasts however the range of images taken are wider. The machine may appear similar to a non-professional however there are intricate differeces. The amount of radiation exposed to the machine may vary depending on the type of machine. As this is an advanced and fairly new screening modality, it is only offered in very specialized radiology centre’s whom we work with.
As with newer method it is pricier than the 2D mammography but considering the fact that your chance of additional images or intervention may be reduced and the agony that you may have breast cancer may be put at ease faster, it is worth considering.