A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray of the breast tissue. Mammograms can detect changes in the breast tissue before they develop into a lump large enough to be felt.
- While commonly referred to as a 'woman’s procedure,' men may also need a mammogram as they can also develop breast cancer.
- Men have some breast tissue (not as much as women), the majority of which is located directly behind the nipple.
- Mammograms are usually only used for women over the age of 35.
In younger women the breast tissue is more dense making it difficult to detect any changes on the mammogram.
However if it is needed a mammogram may be performed on someone younger - depending on their symptoms.
Many women find having a mammogram uncomfortable or even painful, but this is normally just for a short time.
How is it performed?
- A practitioner positions and compresses your breast between two clear plates.
- The plates are attached to a highly specialized camera, which takes two pictures of the breast from two directions.
- This process is repeated on the other breast.
- Mammography can be painful for some women, but for most it is mildly uncomfortable, and the sensation lasts for just a few seconds.
- Compressing the breast is necessary to flatten and reduce the thickness of the breast. The x-ray beam should penetrate as few layers of overlapping tissues as possible.
- A diagnostic mammogram takes longer than a screening mammogram because it takes more pictures from different angles.
- Mammography involves minimal radiation exposure.
: If you’ve had breast surgery for another reason, such as a benign biopsy or surgery to reduce or enlarge the size of your breasts, the radiologist will want to know where those scars are to distinguish it from other breast abnormalities.
Small metal balls will be taped on your skin to mark your scar. Your scar defines the site with the highest risk of recurrence.
At least one or more radiologist reads the mammogram and will then deliver the results to a GP.