A mammogram is an X-ray of the mammary glands in the breast. The diagnostic test reveals breast problems, such as lumps and whether any lump is a fluid-filled cyst or a solid mass. Here are some facts about mammograms you might not be aware of.
Mammograms screen for breast cancer, tumours and calcium deposits. However, monthly breast self-examination and regular doctor's examinations are also required for optimal breast cancer screening.
If your mammogram is abnormal, a breast problem is quite likely. However, it does not necessarily mean that a cancer is present. Also, it doesn’t mean they are ineffective. This is the reason other tests including biopsy are followed by an abnormal mammogram.
Radiation exposure is linked to cancer. But,radiation exposure during a mammogram has never been found to be a cause of breast cancer. Mammograms require very small doses of radiation, and the risk of cancer due to it is low.
It is advised to not wear antiperspirants, deodorants and powders before you go for a mammogram. These make interpretation of the results difficult or make the images appear foggy. And, an abnormal finding can be taken for breast cancer.
If you have breast implants, it is advised to tell the expert who is performing the mammogram about it. These can make a mammogram more difficult by getting in the way of breast tissue. This is why mammograms are more difficult in younger women as they tend to have denser breast tissue.
According to the British Medical Journal, women who carry a specific gene mutation called BRCA 1/2 are vulnerable to radiation exposure from mammography. This gene mutation is linked to cancer development.
According to the American Cancer Society, women with average breast cancer risk should have more frequent examinations and annual mammograms starting at the age of 40.