Should You Get a Mammogram?
Written and reviewed by
MHA, PGDPMC, DGO, MBBS
Gynaecologist, New delhi
37 years experience
A mammogram is an imaging test where an X-ray is taken to recreate the internal imagery of your breasts. This is a screening test that is widely used to find the earliest signs of cancer. There have been instances where the early signs of cancer have been found up to three years before the actual development of the same. There are a number of benefits and risks in this screening method. So let us find out more about getting a mammogram, and whether or not you should get one.
- Procedure: A special X-ray machine is used for conducting a mammogram. There is a clear plastic plate on which the specialist will place the breast while another plate will press on the breast from above. While both the plates serve to flatten the breast and hold it still, the X-ray will be taken. Some pressure will be felt and the same steps will be repeated so as to get the side view of the breasts. The same procedure will be repeated for the other breast. Meanwhile, once it is done, you will need to wait so that the technician can check for clarity, and whether or not the procedure needs to be done again. The results of this procedure cannot be relayed by the technician, and all the images will be different because all breasts are slightly different from each other.
- Preparation: You will need to remember that the process can be a slightly painful one, especially once the pressure gets applied. Many women complain of discomfort and pain. Yet, this discomfort gets over before you know it. The pressure and pain will depend on the size of your breasts and how much they will have to be pressed in order to get a picture. The skill of the technician will also come into play here. One must remember not to get this procedure done a week or so before or after the menstrual cycle, as the breasts tend to be tender around this time, and the pain will be much more.
- Radiologist: Within a few weeks after the procedure, the radiologist will usually deliver the result. This is the professional who does an accurate reading of the X-ray.
- Normal and Abnormal Readings: If your mammogram result has a normal reading, then you can resort to getting one done every once in a while. But an abnormal reading will require further X-ray and tests so as to be able to tell for sure.
- Why should I get one: If you are over 40 and have a family history of such ailments, then you will have to get a mammogram done regularly. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a doctor and ask a free question.
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