What is a Mammogram?
A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast that looks for changes that may be signs of breast cancer
Mammograms can be used to check for breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease. This type of mammogram is called a Screening Mammogram. Screening mammograms usually involve two or more x-ray pictures, or images, of each breast. The x-ray images often make it possible to detect tumors that cannot be felt. Screening mammograms can also find microcalcifications (tiny deposits of calcium) that sometimes indicate the presence of breast cancer.
Mammograms can also be used to check for breast cancer after a lump or other sign or symptom of the disease has been found. This type of mammogram is called a Diagnostic Mammogram. Besides a lump, signs of breast cancer can include breast pain, thickening of the skin of the breast, nipple discharge, or a change in breast size or shape; however, these signs may also be signs of benign conditions. All women should be familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to a health care provider right away.
Regular mammograms can detect breast cancer at an early stage, when success rate of being treated is highest. A mammogram can help to detect abnormalities in breasts that could be indicative of cancer, years before physical symptoms develop. Results from many decades of research clearly show that women who have regular mammograms are more likely to have breast cancer detected at the early stages; are less likely to need aggressive treatment like surgery to remove the breast (mastectomy) and chemotherapy. Hence, survival rates are much higher.