What is a mammogram?
Mammogram is an X-ray of the breasts that is performed to detect early signs of breast cancer.

Are regular mammograms necessary?

Regular mammograms are necessary to detect breast cancer early. Signs of early breast cancer can sometimes be detected as early as three years before it can be actually seen. When detected early, the chances of treatment and cure are enhanced.

The mammogram procedure

* A special X-ray machine is used for the purpose.
* One breast is placed on a clear plastic plate.
* A second plate from above is used to firmly press and slightly flatten the breast.
* The two plates will hold the breasts firmly while an X-ray is taken.
* The same procedure is done on the other breast.
* The steps are then repeated to obtain a side view of each breast.

When is a mammogram necessary?

Most women should have their first mammogram done at the age of 40 years. It is recommended that women have regular mammograms done every two years after the age of 40 years. However if someone has a family history of breast cancer it may have to be done annually. So inform your doctor if you have any symptoms or changes in your breast or if breast cancer runs in your family.

Is self-examination of my breasts enough?

No, mammograms can detect breast problems years earlier than self-examination, increasing the chances of early diagnosis, treatment and cure.

How does a mammogram look?

The picture shows a normal mammogram. Since the breasts of women differ, mammograms will also differ in appearance.

When mammograms show breasts are normal.

Carry on with your regular mammogram schedules. Getting regular mammograms will allow your doctor to compare them to look for changes in your breasts if any.

When mammograms show breasts are abnormal.

Don’t get alarmed. Abnormal mammograms do not always indicate breast cancer. Additional mammograms and other tests are essential before your doctor can confirm anything.

Tips for getting a mammogram

* It is advised not to have your mammogram the week before you get your period or during your period since your breasts
may be tender or swollen at this time.
* When going for a mammogram do not use deodorant, perfume, or body talc as they can show up as white spots on the X-ray.
* Wear a top with a skirt or pants, instead of a dress as you will need to undress from your waist up for the mammogram.
* If you are on Hormone replacement therapy stop it two weeks prior to the mammogram or else they may cause shadows on the
X-ray, which may lead to error in reporting.

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