Frequently Asked Questions:
WHAT IS A MAMMOGRAM?
WHAT IS THE BEST METHOD OF DETECTING BREAST CANCER AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE?
We use the triple test to optimize detecting breast cancer early. This entails the screening mammogram, a clinical breast examination and a high-frequency ultra examination of the breasts.
WHAT IS A MAMMOGRAM AND HOW IS IT DONE?
At our practice we perform the latest technology called digital mammogram. A mammogram is two X-Rays of each breast. We put the breast in compression. So, we compress the breast from top to bottom, and then from the sides. And then we give a very small X-ray dose to the breast, and those X-rays are detected either by film or a digital detector to make an X-ray picture of the breast.
ARE MAMMOGRAMS PAINFUL?
Generally, digital mammograms are not painful but women who are in the premenstrual syndrome may feel some discomfort. Most pain is related to fibrocystic changes in the breast, most commonly for women in their 40s, and that tends to improve after menopause. Tell the technologist if you’re worried about having pain from the mammogram and they will only apply as much compression as they need for the picture. Having a mammogram just after your menstrual cycle will also reduce the amount of tenderness that you experience during the exam.
WHEN AND HOW OFTEN SHOULD I HAVE A MAMMOGRAM?
Mammograms should be done in two settings. One is as a screening setting in which case you have no symptoms. Your first screening mammogram should happen at age 35, then annually from age 40, with the purpose of early detection of breast cancer. The second type of setting is a diagnostic mammogram where you come in complaining of a symptom. This may be a lump, a nipple discharge or a pain etc.
HOW IS A MAMMOGRAM DONE?
The procedure requires you to stand in front of a special x-ray machine. The person who takes the x-rays, called a mammographer, places your breasts, one at a time, between an x-ray plate and a plastic plate. Most often, two pictures are generally taken of each breast — one from the side and one from above. The mammogram procedure usually takes about 10 – 15 minutes from start to finish.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I GET A MAMMOGRAM?
The American College of Radiology (ACR) and Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) recommend that women have annual mammograms from 40 onwards.
WHAT CAN MAMMOGRAMS SHOW?
The mammogram remains the gold standard for early detection of breast cancer. Detecting DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ) is part of early detection. It is a condition which may turn into full-blown breast cancer within 2 – 5 years depending on its aggressiveness. By the time a symptom like a lump or a nipple discharge is experienced, there might be advanced cancer.