What is Mammography Test: Screening, Types & Risks
Healthcare experts use the mammogram or mammography procedure to help determine early signs of breast cancer. It is a very effective way of detecting cancer at its earliest stages.
Though this procedure involves exposure to radiation of low doses, regular mammograms benefit the patient, which out rules the little risk of low radiation.
Who Should Get a Mammogram Screening?
The following groups of people may get mammogram screenings:
- Women belonging to the age group 40-54 years may opt for the option of undergoing annual mammograms
- Women who are 55 years and older may choose to undergo mammography every 2 years.
- Women of all ages, however, need to be very cautious of signs of changes and abnormalities in the breasts and should seek screening accordingly.
- 1 out of 100 men has the possibility of developing breast cancer, given a family history of the same and inherited genetic mutations. Hence, men with such a history or mutations may consider undergoing a mammogram annually.
What Is a Mammography Test?
It is a specialised medical imaging which administers low-dose X-rays to capture internal images of breasts. This process detects early signs of breast cancer. Doctors and technicians perform mammograms on an X-ray machine specially designed to hold a breast in place. The process involves repetitive steps to capture side-view images of breasts.
What Are the Different Types of Mammograms?
This test includes two types of X-rays to capture internal images of breasts. These are 2D Digital mammography and 3D digital mammography (digital breast tomosynthesis). Following are the types of mammograms:
1. 2D Digital Mammograms
This type of mammogram captures electronic images of the insides of breasts. In addition, it helps technicians to save files electronically, making it easier to examine and share images.
2. 3D Mammograms or Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT)
It is a new type of mammogram where the machines allow capturing images of both breasts at the same time. The machine captures multiple low-dose X-ray images with an arc movement around the breasts. This allows healthcare experts to examine the tissues of the breasts very clearly in 3D.
What Are the Reasons for a Mammogram?
The following are the reasons to go for a mammogram:
- Nearing 30s, women must undergo mammograms as abnormalities in the breasts indicating cancer cannot always be felt.
- Another reason for doing mammograms is if any woman has a breast cancer history, it increases the risk of cancer.
- The palpable development of a sizable lump may only be intriguing enough to make a person go for the test.
- Nipple discharge, thickening of breasts skin, breast pain etc., are also reasons to go for a mammogram.
What Are the Risks and Side Effects of a Fasting Blood Sugar Test?
There are some minor risks and side effects of taking a fasting sugar test. For example:
- Experiencing a prick when a technician inserts a needle
- Slight bruising or infections at the site of injection
- Difficulty finding a vein causing bleeding
Nevertheless, these conditions do not persist.
What Are the Risks of a Mammogram?
Risks of a mammogram may include the following conditions:
- It Exposes People to Low-dose Radiation: Though mammogram includes low-dose radiation, it sometimes brings complications for people with other health issues.
- Mammograms Are Not Perfect:: Mammograms often fail to identify the cancer tissue from the normal breast tissues. So, one gets complications later. However, sometimes mammogram gives false positive alarm regarding breast cancer.
How Do I Prepare for a Mammogram?
You can prepare for a mammogram in the following ways:
- Schedule a date a week after your menstrual period ensuring less tenderness of breasts.
- Do not apply deodorants or talcum before going for the screening.
- Carry your prior mammogram images along if there are any.
Undergoing a mammography screening may not be painful. However, a little discomfort may be a part of the process. It is, however, unavoidable when a person has the urge to live, defeating the condition and seeking treatment at the earliest.