Why mammograms are an important breast cancer screening procedure for women

by ghiselle rousso

Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting modern women today. While breast cancer can occur in women at any age, it is more generally common in women over 60. A mammogram, also called breast screening, is one of the best preventive measures to detect breast cancer early. 

A mammogram Gold Coast uses very low doses of x-rays to detect the early growth of breast cancers that are too small to be felt by home breast exams or by a doctor its early detection offers the best chance for successful breast cancer treatment and recovery. It is also important for women to get to know the look and feel of their breasts so that if they notice anything unusual during their home breast exams they can immediately call their doctor for a mammogram.

When is a mammogram not used to screen for breast cancer?

Women cannot undergo a mammogram screening procedure if they:

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding, and
  • Were recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

Breast implants during a mammogram.

A mammogram is generally safe for women with breast implants. Although there may be risks as a mammogram is considered to be less effective in detecting early breast cancers as implants can adversely affect the depth of the breast tissue which can be seen by the mammogram machine.

Women with breast implants need to tell their doctor if they have breast implants as there are unique breast screening techniques that are used to screen women with implants using a mammogram. The radiographer conducting the mammogram examinations uses special techniques to take properly detailed images of breast tissue that are expected to be obscured by breast implants. 

Also, women with breast implants generally require more x-ray films than women without breast implants which may expose them to more radiation. There are currently no long-term studies and evidence that breast cancer occurs more frequently in women that have breast implants compared to women without breast implants.

The possible risks of damage and problems using a mammogram on women with breast implants. 

When a mammogram screening is conducted on women with breast implants their radiographers generally will take very special care to use very minimal compression on the breast implant itself during the entire mammogram procedure. While highly unlikely for any compression on a breast implant may cause leaks or change the shape of any breast implant, still, women need to know that possible damage can occur to their implant whenever they undergo a mammogram screening procedure.

What to do if any symptoms are noted?

If women notice any symptoms like a lump or pain on any part of their breast, or a discharge from the nipple, in fact, any unusual breast changes, it is crucial for them to contact their doctor immediately and have a mammogram breast screening procedure performed as soon as possible.

What happens during a mammogram procedure?

During a mammogram procedure, the breasts will receive very low doses of x-rays to detect any unsuspected cancer in its early stages before symptoms appear. The mammogram will provide a highly-detailed image of the interior tissues of the breast which is then examined by the radiologist that is trained to detect any abnormalities and transmit their findings to the doctor.

What to expect during a mammogram screening.

While the mammogram is underway, each breast will be lightly compressed between two flat plates on the x-ray machine with a slight discomfort experienced which typically lasts barely for a few seconds. For sensitive women or if any pains are typically experienced during their mammogram session, they can inform their radiologist so that they can make certain that a mammogram procedure is as comfortable as possible. A mammogram can be reasonably expected to require approximately ten to twenty minutes to properly complete, with the image processing typically taking a short while to carefully check for its image quality and its proper interpretation.

What if a mammogram result has an abnormal finding?

If anything is found to be abnormal after a mammogram session, women will be asked to come back for further confirmatory tests since a further investigation of any abnormal finding is important for early treatment. However, an erroneous finding can occur during the first mammogram sessions as there are no other breast tissue images to compare with along with the possibility of the initial images taken being unclear.

Possible issues that may cause complications in interpreting the generated images during a mammogram. 

Difficulties in interpreting mammogram images can be caused by:

  • Lumpy or glandular breasts are expected in women under thirty years old.
  • Having dense or muscular breast tissues which are common in pre-menopausal women.
  • Any previous breast or radiation therapies performed.
  • Having breast implants.
  • Any movement of the breast during a mammogram procedure can cause blurry images.

Women need to remember that being called back for further tests does not necessarily mean they have breast cancer as a mammogram procedure can also pick up other breast conditions.

Additional tests are recommended by medical professionals for breast cancer screening. 

  • Further physical breast examinations.
  • Additional mammogram sessions.
  • Additional breast ultrasound screening.
  • Other scanning procedures like CT or MRI scans.
  • A biopsy.

If a biopsy requires to be performed it can be expected to take weeks for any results to come.

What if breast cancer is inevitably found?

If during a mammogram breast cancer is detected, medical professionals will proactively work with the patient to carefully explain the mammogram findings and the necessary steps that need to be promptly taken for effective treatment and care to ensure early and rapid recovery.

All women need to be properly informed of all the breast cancer screening options available for them. Although a mammogram cannot prevent or treat breast cancer, it can undoubtedly help accurately detect possible signs of breast cancer early while it is still easier to properly treat. A mammogram is one of the best ways to prevent breast cancer or properly cure it earlier during its initial stages. Receiving routine mammograms can lower the possible risks of dying from breast cancer.

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