Mammography is a diagnostic test that uses low-dose X-rays to obtain images of a woman’s breasts to detect any abnormalities. This test is important because it can detect breast cancer at an early stage, which increases the chances of a cure.


What are the benefits of screening?

Some of the benefits are listed below:

  1. Early detection: One of its main advantages is that they can detect breast cancer in its early stages, when it is most treatable and curable because when detected early, treatment is less invasive and more effective, increasing the chances of cure.
  2. Reduced mortality: Studies have shown that regular screening can reduce breast cancer mortality by up to 40% by detecting cancer in its early stages.
  3. Accurate screening: Mammograms are highly accurate in detecting abnormalities in breast tissue, even before they can be felt during a physical examination.
  4. Easy access: This test is a widely available and easy to perform diagnostic test. Most hospitals and clinics offer this test, and it is relatively quick and non-invasive.
  5. Quality control: Mammograms undergo rigorous quality control to ensure that the results are accurate and reliable.
  6. Screening for cancer in younger women: Although breast cancer is considered to be more common in older women, it can also affect younger women. This test can be especially useful in detecting breast cancer in younger women, when it is more difficult to diagnose.
  7. Help in treatment planning: Mammograms can also help doctors plan treatment for breast cancer, which may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or other treatments. By identifying cancer at an early stage, more informed decisions can be made about appropriate treatment.


Who is recommended for mammograms?

The following are the groups of women who are advised to have mammograms:

  1. Women aged 50-74: The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that women aged 50-74 have screening mammograms every two years. However, women over 74 can still benefit from mammograms, so they can talk to their doctors about the appropriate frequency of testing.
  2. Women over 40 at increased risk: Women with a family history of breast cancer, especially if they have close relatives (mother or sister) with the disease, may be at increased risk of developing it. These women may need to start screening mammograms before age 50 or have them more frequently.
  3. Women with symptoms: Women who experience symptoms of breast cancer, such as lumps, changes in breast shape or texture, nipple discharge or pain, should have a diagnostic mammogram to help identify the cause of the symptoms.

In general, it is important for women to discuss their medical history and risk factors with their doctors to determine the appropriate frequency and timing of screening tests.


How is it done?

It is important to prepare properly for a mammogram. This includes avoiding the use of deodorant, lotion or perfume in the underarms or breast area before the test, as these products can affect the quality of the images. It is also important to inform the radiology technologist if there is any possibility that you are pregnant.

After the mammogram, the radiologist will review the images and provide a report to your doctor. If any abnormalities are found, additional tests, such as a biopsy, may be needed to determine if breast cancer is present.

The following are the general steps for performing a mammogram:

  1. Preparation: Before the test, the patient will be asked to remove her clothes from the waist up and put on a hospital gown that is open in front. She will also be asked to remove any metal objects she is wearing on her upper body, such as jewellery or zips, as they may interfere with the test images.
  2. Positioning: The patient will be guided to a private room where the test will be performed. The radiology technologist will guide the patient to stand in front of a mammography machine. The technologist will place the breast on a flat mammography plate and then lower an upper plate to gently compress the breast.
  3. Compression: Compression is necessary to separate and spread the breast tissue, which reduces the amount of radiation needed to obtain clear images. Temporary discomfort may be felt during compression, but compression is necessary to obtain clear, detailed images.
  4. Imaging: Once the breast is compressed, x-ray images will be taken of the breast from two different angles, a side view and a top-to-bottom view. You may need to change positions several times to get images of all areas of the breast.
  5. Evaluation: After the images are taken, the radiology technologist will evaluate the images to make sure they are of high quality and that all necessary areas have been imaged. If additional images are needed, more may be taken.
  6. Results: Mammography results are usually provided to the patient a few days after the test is performed. If an abnormality is detected on the mammogram, the doctor may recommend a biopsy to determine whether or not the tissue is cancerous.



In summary, mammography is an important low-dose x-ray test used for the early detection of breast cancer, which is key to the cure and recovery from breast cancer. On the other hand, although it can be a little uncomfortable, it is quick and painless

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