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What Happens During a Mammogram?

While the mammogram cannot yield definitive results, it can be a perfect aid to know whether there is a requirement for further examination or even a diagnostic mammogram. If it is your first time for a mammogram, it can be a stressful and bit scary situation.

However, you can prepare yourself with the necessary information before visiting the examination technician. Keep reading to know the significance and detail of what happens during a mammogram!

What is Mammogram?

A mammography is an effective diagnostic test used in screening for early breast cancer symptoms of breast cancer. Typically, the procedure utilizes X-ray imaging techniques to detect any irregularities in the breast tissues. Though the irregularities don’t have to be cancerous and can help point out the need for further diagnostic procedures. The images created from the procedure are known as a mammogram. It can even be stored on the computer for easy access. 

What are the Different Types of Mammograms?

There are two major types of mammograms – which may sound similar but are recommended for different purposes. They are

Screening Mammogram

A screening mammogram is a prevention procedure suggested to look for breast cancer in individuals with no symptoms. Phsycialn recommends this procedure for women with risks of breast cancer or those between 40 and 45.

Diagnostic Mammogram

Diagnosed mammograms are recommended for women experiencing certain signs or symptoms of breast cancer. Some of them are

  • Formation of a lump in the breast
  • Any new variations in the size or shape of the breast
  • Blood discharge from the nipples
  • Pain or discomfort in the breast tissues
  • Thickening of the skin in the breast

This procedure will usually take longer than the screening mammogram since it will take more X-ray pictures. The primary purpose of the diagnostic mammogram is to get a closer look at the intricate details of the breast tissue.

What to Do Before a Mammogram?

There are no specific instructions to follow before the mammogram procedure. The physician will recommend you wear loose or comfortable clothes as you have to remove them during the process. Furthermore, make sure you are scheduling the mammogram examination after the menstrual cycle. It is because your breasts will be swollen or sensitive during and before the week of your menstrual cycle.

Always arrive 15 minutes before the appointment period. Also, refrain from using any scented perfumes, powders, or deodorants. If you have undergone mammogram appointments before, bring a copy of the images to compare the reporting process.

What Happens During a Mammogram?

You will be instructed to stand straight before the mammography machine during the mammogram. It is a specially designed X-ray unit. Then the technologist will place one of the breasts on a clear plastic plate and lower them to press it between the two plates. It will be repeated to the other breast.

Images of each breast are taken from the top to bottom view and from right to left using a high-resolution camera. This will allow you to capture standard-quality images. Moreover, the entire process will only take around 20 minutes to complete. It will help you to discover any abnormalities or formation of masses like lumps even before the thorough physical examination. Breast compression may cause slight pain or discomfort when positioned between the plates.

How is Breast Cancer Detected on a Mammogram?

The background image of the mammogram is usually black, while the breast tissues appear in white and grey shades. The dense breast tissues, such as connective tissue and glands, will appear white, while the less dense tissue, which is more common in older women, will appear grey.

Since every breast is unique, mammograms tend to differ for each woman. A standard mammogram will show most grey areas with mild white regions, which indicates healthy breast tissues. If any area looks abnormal, it may be a cause for concern. A radiologist or physician will look for high-density and white tissues. Such tumors or lumps will appear as a focused white, which can be either cancerous or beings.

The small, white spots are usually harmless. However, the technician will interpret it completely by examining their pattern and shape, which could indicate cancer in rare cases.

When Should You Get a Mammogram?

Most women are susceptible to breast cancer due to generic inheritance or external factors. Therefore ensure to opt for this life-saving diagnosis from the age of 40. The screening should be performed once a year to ensure your well-being.

However, refrain from undergoing the process if you are pregnant, as it might affect the fetus. Also, a mammogram is not suggested for breastfeeding women. The breast tissue will be denser during breastfeeding, making it harder for the technician to interpret the obtained images.

What to Expect After the Mammogram?

After the procedure, you may feel slight tenderness, which will resolve within a few hours. Nonetheless, you can return to your daily activities immediately after the session.

How Long Will It Take to Get Results?

A technician usually reviews the images within 48 hours of the appointment and sends the report to your healthcare professional. If the mammogram detects any abnormalities in the image, they might suggest further screening tests to confirm cancer. However, it is important to remember that 98% of the abnormalities in the image are benign (non-cancerous cells), dense breast tissues, or even due to unclear or blur images.

Wrapping Up!

Our team of expert professionals will work and coordinate with you to determine the right choice according to an individual’s health status. Our ultimate goal is to make breast cancer screening as easy and quick as possible so you can follow the appropriate treatment immediately and have peace of mind.

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