A mammogram is something that radiologists use to examine breast tissue. It’s a low-dose X-ray machine that generates film pictures or, alternatively, a digital image that the doctor can look at on a computer screen.
Typically, women begin having mammograms at age 40. However, if a woman has a family history involving breast cancer, it’s suggested that she begins having mammograms by age 30. Breast health is a very important aspect of women’s health.
Mammograms are able to see and detect things that a typical self-breast exam wouldn’t be able to. A lump felt in an at-home breast exam can be further explored through use of a mammogram. However, it’s key to remember that some breasts naturally contain more lumps than others.
What is it like to have a mammogram?
To start the mammogram, you stand in front of the x-ray machine. The radiologist, one at a time, places each breast between a plastic plate and the x-ray plate. The breasts are then compressed and flattened, and pictures are taken. Most women describe the experience as uncomfortable rather than painful. The discomfort generally lasts for only a few seconds
What can mammograms show?
- Calcifications – These are small flecks made of calcium, or sometimes larger, “macrocalcifications.” It’s very rare, but sometimes, these small flecks of calcium can indicate areas where cancer has recently begun. Rarely, the smaller “microcalcifications” may indicate areas where cancer has recently begun.2
- Cysts – These are masses filled with fluid that are quite common and rarely associated with cancer.
- Fibroadenomas – These are solid, round lumps that move inside the breast. They’re the most common, especially for younger women. Fibroadenomas are typically removed to ensure that they are not cancerous.2
NEW: Digital Mammography
Digital mammography is the newest alternative to film mammography. With digital, studies have shown that it, “was significantly better than film mammography,” especially for women who were under 50 or had dense breasts. The image is typically much clearer than film, because the high resolution monitors can identify masses more accurately.3
If you are interested in learning more about our mammography services or would like to schedule an appointment, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us today!