mammography

What is a Mammogram or Mammography?

A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray of the breast; Mammograms are performed for two major reasons. First, in women with breast symptoms, to detect a possible cause for their symptoms (a diagnostic mammogram), and secondly, to detect early signs of breast cancer in women who do not have breast symptoms (a screening mammogram). The x-ray dose from a mammogram is very low. It has not been proven to cause any harmful effects.

How is a Mammogram performed?

The mammogram is performed by a specially trained, experienced female radiographer. You will be required to undress to the waist and will be given a loose-fitting gown to wear. Each breast will be positioned between two flat plates and compressed. The compression will be firm and may be uncomfortable, however, it should only last a few seconds whilst the x-ray is being taken. The compression helps make the breast a uniform thickness, which makes the image clearer and minimizes the x-ray dose to the breast tissue. Initially two images will be taken of each breast but further images may be required. The mammogram appointment time is usually 15 minutes. More time may be needed if you have breast implants.

After your Mammogram

The images will be reviewed by the specialist doctor(radiologist) and a report will be made for the doctor who requested the investigation.

Preparation

  • Bring all previous mammograms and breast ultrasounds with you.
  • Please do not wear any talcum powder or deodorant as this may show up as an abnormality on your mammogram.
  • Please let the radiographer know if you think you might be pregnant
  • Wear a 2 piece outfit

Who should have a Mammogram?

The risk of breast cancer increases with age, especially after the age of 50 years. It is suggested that women over the age of 40 years, without breast symptoms, have a screening mammogram every two years. There is no proven benefit for women under 40 years to have routine screening mammograms. Annual screening mammograms are only suggested if you have had a previous breast cancer or have a very strong family history of breast cancer (ie multiple affected family members). Your doctor can tell you if you are in the latter group. If you have breast symptoms your doctor will indicate whether you should have a mammogram

Note: the information below is a general guide only. The arrangements, and the way tests are performed, may vary between different centers. Always follow the instructions given by your doctor or local hospital.

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