For the unversed, a mammogram is an X-ray of your breasts. If you are a woman over the age of 40, your doctor may recommend a mammogram for an annual breast cancer screening. Many patients have no signs or symptoms of the disease, which is precisely why mammograms are so necessary and relevant. When you visit a Boise mammography clinic, a doctor will note your medical & family history to determine whether you are at risk. Your doctor may even recommend going for the test when they find something unusual in another imaging test.
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Types of mammograms
The common mammogram is the conventional one, where the equipment takes two-dimensional images of your breasts. If your doctor finds it necessary, they may recommend breast tomosynthesis, which refers to a 3D mammogram that takes three-dimensional images. Mammograms are usually classified into two categories –
- Screening mammogram: True to the name, a screening mammogram is suggested for patients who need screening and have no evident signs of breast cancer. Because early diagnosis allows for minimally-invasive treatment, screening mammograms are recommended for women over 40.
- Diagnostic mammogram: This type of mammogram is to investigate when there are signs that need attention. Your doctor may recommend this when you have a lump, breast pain, or changes in your skin. If there are unusual findings in a screening mammogram, your doctor may suggest you go for a diagnostic mammogram, which takes more images of the breasts.
Are mammograms safe?
The short answer is yes. You are exposed to some radiation during the screening, and the benefits usually outweigh the risks. Mammograms are not always enough to diagnose breast cancer, and if your doctor thinks you are at a higher risk, you may have to go for additional testing, such as an ultrasound test or biopsy.
Preparing for a mammogram
You don’t need to take additional steps before you go for a mammogram. However, you should schedule your mammogram when your breasts are not tender, and the best time is a week after the first day of your period. If you have undergone mammograms in the past, you should bring previous reports with you, as the radiologist may want to check the same. You will have to change before the X-images are taken, and therefore, it is best to wear something easy to take off. Do not use any skincare products or deodorants before the mammogram.
Talk to your doctor if someone in the immediate family has breast cancer.