Frequently Asked Questions about Mammogram

  • What exactly is a mammogram?

A mammogram is like an X-ray of the breast. You will be made to stand in front of a machine with your breast placed on a plate-like surface. Another plate will press against the breast from above in and hold it in place for the X-ray. This step is repeated to get a side view of the breast. A mammogram helps the doctor get a closer view of the breast in order to understand any changes that may not have been felt during a breast examination.

  • Are mammograms painful?

Mammograms are not painful, although they do cause a certain amount of pain or discomfort when the breasts are compressed against the plate-like surface. However, if you experience any pain during the mammogram, make sure to report it to the radiologist. Do not ignore the pain if it feels like more than a pinch.

  • When should I get a mammogram screening?

Breast cancer is common in women over the age of 50. Hence, women over 50 years of age should get screened once in two years. Younger women must consult their doctors to check for the best time to start getting screened. However, self-breast assessment is advised in younger women in order to understand and report immediately in case of any abnormalities in the breast.

  • What is a diagnostic mammogram?

There are two types of mammograms, namely;

Screening mammogram –is used to diagnose any form of lump or tumors that cannot be felt with the naked hands. This is done in women who do not have any visible symptoms of breast cancer.

Diagnostic mammogram – is used when a woman is diagnosed with signs and symptoms of breast cancer. A diagnostic mammogram takes longer to perform than a simple screening mammogram because, in the former, images of the breast are taken from different angles.

  • Do I need to be concerned about the radiation caused by mammograms?

You are exposed to very minimal radiation during a mammogram. Technology today has progressed to an extent where very limited radiation energy is used in order to perform a mammogram. There is no significant risk of damage to the breast caused due to radiation.

  • Is a mammogram really effective?

A mammogram is the single most effective tool that helps in diagnosis and detection of breast cancer. While it is true that a mammogram may not be able to detect some breast lumps which will need to be done through an MRI, self-examination, ultrasound etc. a mammogram is extremely important to perform in order to confirm the diagnosis of breast cancer. They can identify symptoms like lumps even before they occur.

 

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Dr. Seema Chowdhary

Specialist Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Aster Clinic, Dubai Silicon Oasis

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