Mammography is important because in its earliest stages breast cancer may not be palpable it may be too small to feel as a lump or tissue change. Mammography can help detect these changes two years or more before you would feel them. Physical examination is also important because premenopausal breast tissue is often dense and fibrous, which may decrease the reliability of mammography for young women.
If you notice any change in your breast (such as a lump or other texture change, breast pain, skin dimpling, or nipple discharge) see your doctor. Mammography or other diagnostic tests may be recommended to evaluate the changes taking place. The majority of these changes are due to benign-that is, non cancerous--conditions, but you'll be glad you checked. If a lump is detected after the mammography is done, it may be essential to take a biopsy for the final diagnosis.
Patient Benefits :
It gives very high resolution films so that even the smallest of cancers can be easily detected
The machine itself decides the optimum compression to be given to the patients. This enables good quality films with least discomfort to the patient.
There is automatic decompression so that once the exposure is done, the breasts are automatically decompressed. Thus the patient experiences discomfort only for a few seconds.
Recommendation for Mammography: Women at Average Risk for Developing Breast Cancer
Over 50 years :
All women over the age of 50 years should have annual mammography examinations.
40-50 years :
The Indian Cancer Society recommends annual mammograms for women in this age group. The National Cancer Institute recommends that these women get a mammogram every 1-2 years. Your physician should offer appropriate guidance on this issue according to your personal medical history.
Under 40 years : Most women under the age of 40 years do not need annual mammograms. However a baseline mammogram may be done at 35 years.
Special Circumstances :
Women at Higher than Average Risk
Breast changes you (or your physician) may discover :
A change in breast texture (such as a lump) breast pain, skin dimpling or nipple discharge
Consult your doctor. A mammogram may be recommended.
You may be at higher risk for breast cancer if :
you have already had breast cancer, especially before menopause. you are genetically susceptible to cancer, i.e. you have close relatives with breast cancer. Those taking hormone replacement therapy. Unmarried women and those without children are also at high risk
Your doctor may recommend that you have mammography examinations more frequently or start at an earlier age than women at average risk. Make sure your physician is aware of any risk factors that apply to you.