What is Mammography
A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. Doctors use a mammogram to look for early signs of breast cancer. Regular mammograms are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early, sometimes up to three years before you can feel it.
How the Test is Performed
You will be asked to undress from the waist up. You will be given a gown to wear. Depending on the type of equipment used, you will sit or stand.
One breast at a time is resting on a flat surface that contains the x-ray plate. A device called a compressor will be pressed firmly against the breast. This helps flatten the breast tissue.
The x-ray pictures are taken from several angles. You may be asked to hold your breath as each picture is taken.
You may be asked to come back at a later date for more mammogram images. This does not always mean you have breast cancer. Your health care provider may need to recheck an area that could not be seen on the first test.
Why the Test is Performed
When and how often to have a screening mammogram is a choice you must make. Different expert groups do not fully agree on the best timing for this test.
✅ Your risk for breast cancer
✅ Whether screening decreases your chance of dying from breast cancer
✅ Whether there is any harm from breast cancer screening, such as side effects from testing or overtreatment of cancer when it’s discovered
Mammography is performed to screen women to detect early breast cancer when it is more likely to be cured. Mammography is generally recommended for:
✅ Women starting at age 40, repeated every 1 to 2 years. (All expert organizations do not recommend this.)
✅ All women starting at age 50, repeated every 1 to 2 years.
✅ Women with a mother or sister who had breast cancer at a younger age should consider yearly mammograms. They should begin earlier than the age at which their youngest family member was diagnosed.
Mammography is also used to:
✅ Follow a woman who has had an abnormal mammogram.
✅ Evaluate a woman who has symptoms of breast disease. These symptoms may include a lump, nipple discharge, breast pain, dimpling of the skin on the breast, changes in the nipple, or other findings.