Mammography is a specific type of imaging that uses a low-dose X-ray system to examine breasts. A mammography exam, called a mammogram, is used to aid in the early detection and diagnosis of breast diseases in women.
An X-ray (radiograph) is a non-invasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. Imaging with X-rays involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of ionising radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body. Source: RadiologyInfo
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Facts about Breast Cancer
- Although most women are diagnosed between the ages of 45 and 70 years, it also occurs in women younger than 45 years.
- The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the prognosis of survival and quality of life.
- There is a 90%, 5-year survival rate when breast cancer is detected before it spreads.
- ALL breast masses should be investigated; 9 out of 10 lumps are not malignant.
Factors that could put you at risk for breast cancer
- Age: More likely in women over 50 years, but also found in younger women.
- Gender: Women are more likely to be affected than men.
- Family History: Having close relatives with breast cancer.
- If you had breast cancer in one breast, you have an increased risk of getting breast cancer in the other breast.
- Menstrual History: Early onset of menstruation (before 12 years) and late menopause (after 50 years).
- Children: No children or having your first child after the age of 30 years.
- HRT: Taking hormone replacement therapy for more than 5 years.
- Lifestyle: Smoking, alcohol, obesity, and a high-fat diet are all harmful and can lead to cancer.
Value of Screening Mammography
- Early Detection: A mammogram can detect a mass up to 2 years before detection by touch.
- Enables more successful treatment options: Lumpectomy (removal of a lump) instead of a mastectomy (removal of a breast), so early detection can save your breast and, more importantly, your life!
- Trials have shown a mortality reduction of up to 40-45% in ages 50-70 years.
- Screening Mammogram: X-ray of a breast with no symptoms.
- Diagnostic Mammogram: X-ray of a breast where a known problem exists or the patient has symptoms.
Preparing for the procedure
- Do not apply powder, deodorants and creams to your chest area.
- Try not to schedule your mammogram for the week before or during your menstrual period, as breasts are usually more tender.
- PLEASE INFORM THE RADIOGRAPHER IF YOU ARE PREGNANT OR SUSPECT THAT YOU MAY BE PREGNANT!
- Any breast symptoms or problems must be discussed with the radiographer performing the examination.
- You will be required to remove clothing and jewellery from the waist up and put on a gown.
- X-ray images are taken of the breast, usually 2 per breast.
- The breast is compressed between two compression plates to flatten the breast to a more uniform thickness, spread the breast tissue apart, hold the breast still and reduce X-ray scatter, all of which improve image quality.
- Additional images and/or Ultrasound may be required depending on your breast tissue pattern and whether any irregularities appear on the initial four images.
- The examination usually takes 20-40min depending on the number of images done and if further examinations are required, e.g. Ultrasound.
- Images are viewed and reported by a radiologist while you wait. If any additional imaging is required, it can be done before leaving the department.
- Your results will be sent to the referring doctor.
- Phone your doctor to discuss the results if they have not contacted you in a timely manner.