Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Mammograms

Why mammograms are important?

Getting a mammogram may seem frightening, but it’s a simple screening test that may help save your life or the lives of women you know and love. To get the most out of the experience, it’s important to know what you should expect prior to your first appointment.

Over the years, physicians have come up with ways to prevent breast cancer by finding tumors early through a mammogram. If you can prevent it or find cancerous cells early, you decrease what you need to have done and you increase your chance of survival. Mammograms have come a long way. The technology is better than ever. The things that they can find are so small and really if you can stop something before it progresses, why wouldn’t you?

The guide below will walk you through the process and help you feel prepared and confident.

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is often used either for screening or for diagnostic purposes. A mammogram can show a doctor or radiologist whether you have any lumps, scars, or other changes in the breast tissue. How often you ought to have a mammogram depends on your age and your risk of carcinoma.

Mammography is the X-ray imaging of your breasts designed to detect tumors and other abnormalities. Mammography is often used either for screening or for diagnostic purposes in evaluating a breast lump:

Screening mammography: Screening mammography is employed to detect breast changes in women who haven’t any signs or symptoms or new breast abnormalities. The goal is to detect cancer before clinical signs are noticeable.

Diagnostic mammography: Diagnostic mammography is employed to research suspicious breast changes, like a replacement breast lump, breast pain, an unusual skin appearance, nipple thickening or nipple discharge. it is also wont to evaluate abnormal findings on a screening mammogram. A diagnostic mammogram includes additional mammogram images.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Apart from a lump, some of the other symptoms of breast cance are:

  • Swelling in a part, or the whole breast
  • Discharge from the nipple which is other than breastmilk
  • Scaling, skin irritation, redness on the breast and nipples
  • Swelling in the collarbone, arm, and armpit
  • Nipple turning inward
  • The breast and nipple skin become thick

Treating Breast Cancer

There are several treatment options to treat breast cancer. The type of treatment depends on the kind and how much it has spread. One or more treatment options will have to be undertaken and includes:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormonal therapy
  • Biological therapy
  • Radiation therapy 
  • Surgery

Medicare covers yearly mammogram screenings however, there may be some out-of-pocket costs depending on your plan and medical situation. These costs generally include any premiums and deductibles owed, plus a coinsurance of 20 percent of the Medicare-approved costs for this test.

When should you start getting a mammogram

There is no ideal age to begin screening for carcinoma. Further, experts and medical organizations don’t agree on when women should begin regular mammograms or how often the tests should be performed. Talk together with your doctor about your risk factors, your preferences, and therefore the benefits and risks of screening. Together, you’ll decide what screening mammography schedule is best for you.

Benefits of a mammogram

Through mammography, particularly a digital one, your radiologist reviews images of the breast using high-resolution monitors. He or she can adjust the brightness, change contrast, and zoom in for close-ups if necessary.

3D mammography provides radiologists with a three-dimensional view of your breast tissue, which helps them identify and characterize individual breast structures without the confusion of overlapping tissue. This technology allows for a higher rate of cancer detection and gives your radiologist a more confident set of results.

Some general guidelines for when to start a mammogram:

  • Women with a mean risk of carcinoma. Many ladies begin mammograms at age 40 and have them all to 2 years. Professional groups differ on their recommendations. The American Cancer Society advises women with a mean risk to start screening mammograms yearly at age 45 until age 54, then continue every two years. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends women start screening every two years starting at age 50 until age 74. However, these groups agree that ladies can prefer to be screened starting at age 40.
  • Women with a high risk of carcinoma. Women with a high risk of carcinoma may benefit by beginning screening mammograms before age 40. ask your doctor about evaluating your individual risk of carcinoma. Your risk factors, like a case history of carcinoma or a history of precancerous breast lesions, may lead your doctor to recommend an MRI together with mammograms.

Risks and limitations of mammograms include:

  • Mammograms expose you to low-dose radiation. The dose is extremely low, though, and for many women the advantages of normal mammograms outweigh the risks posed by this amount of radiation.
  • Mammograms aren’t always accurate. The accuracy of the procedure depends partially on the technique used and therefore the experience and skill of the radiologist. Other factors — like your age and breast density — may end in false-negative or false-positive mammograms.
  • Mammograms in younger women are often difficult to interpret. The breasts of younger ladies contain more glands and ligaments than do those of older women, leading to dense breast tissue which will obscure signs of cancer. With age, breast tissue becomes fattier and has fewer glands, making it easier to interpret and detect changes on mammograms.
  • Having a mammogram may cause additional testing. Among women of all ages, about 10 percent of mammograms require additional testing, including additional imaging tests like ultrasound, and a procedure (biopsy) to get rid of a sample of breast tissue for laboratory testing. However, most abnormal findings detected on mammograms aren’t cancer.

If you’re told that your mammogram is abnormal, your radiologist will want to match it with previous mammograms. If you’ve got had mammograms performed elsewhere, your radiologist will invite your permission to possess them sent to the radiology center in order that they will be compared with the present mammogram.

Screening mammography can’t detect all cancers. Some cancers detected by physical examination might not be seen on the mammogram. A cancer could also be too small or could also be in a neighborhood that’s difficult to look at by mammography, like your armpit. Mammograms can miss 1 in 5 cancers in women.

Not all of the tumors found by mammography are often cured. Certain sorts of cancers are aggressive, grow rapidly and spread early to other parts of your body.