- A mammogram is an X-ray of your breast
Fasting is not necessary on the day of the test.
- Mammograms can save your life
Finding Breast cancer early reduces your risk of dying from the disease by 25-30% or more. Women should begin having mammograms at age 50 or earlier if they are at high risk.
Mammography is a fast procedure (about 20 mins), and discomfort is minimal for most women. The procedure is safe: there is only a tiny amount of radiation exposure from a mammogram.
- Get the best quality you can
Try to get a digital mammogram. A digital mammogram is recorded on a computer so that doctors can enlarge certain sections to look at them more closely.
- Bring your past mammogram films with you
Make sure that your past results are available to whoever will be looking at your new results.
- Women should get a mammogram every two years once they turn 50
If you are at high risk of breast Cancer, have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, or have had radiation treatment to the chest in the past, it is recommended that you start having annual mammograms at a younger age. Discuss with your doctor.
- Mammography is the most powerful breast cancer detection tool
However, mammograms can still miss 20% of breast cancers that are simply not visible using this technique. Other important tools- such as breast self-examination, clinical breast examination, ultrasound or MRI- can be used as complementary tools.
Once you find a facility you have confidence in, try to go there year after year so that you can be followed up.
- Don’t wear deodorant or antiperspirant to your mammogram
Since these show up on mammograms and interfere with the test results.
- An unusual result requiring further testing does not always mean you have breast cancer
About 10% of women who have a mammogram will require more tests. Only 8-10% of these will need a biopsy and about 80% of these biopsies will turn out not to be cancer.
The writer, Dr. Rashmi Sharma, is Senior Consultant Surgical Oncology (Breast Services) at, Narayana Superspeciality Hospital in Gurugram