What Is Mammogram And How To Prepare For It?
A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the female breast taken by expert professionals through the highly developed machine. The doctor uses a mammogram to look for early signs of breast cancer. Only regular mammograms can detect early symptoms of breast cancer. In some extreme cases, the doctor has been able to detect breast cancer up to 3 years before it could be felt by the patient, only with the help of regular mammograms.
Preparing for a mammogram not only helps to reduce anxiety regarding the process but also enables more accurate and medically acceptable results. Being a diagnostic tool and a routine screening procedure for breast cancer detection, it is recommended by doctors for detecting a lump or if the age or the level of risk becomes cancerous.
According to the guidelines from the American College of physicians, age bracket determining women's susceptible to breast cancer can be classified as:
1) Aged between 40-49 years - Women having a high risk of breast cancer largely benefit by beginning screening mammograms before or soon after attaining the age of 40. They can have it every two years.
2) Aged 50-74 years - Women from this age bracket should get the screening done every 2 years
3) Aged 75 and above- At this age or with 10 more years of life expectancy, there is no need for screening of breast cancer.
Reasons responsible for higher risk of breast cancer in females are:
- Personal/ family history of breast cancer
- History of higher risk precancerous breast lesions
- Genetic factors such as BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation
- Exposure to the radiation on the breast in childhood
Now, let’s know how to prepare for a mammogram to reduce the stress experienced by some. Before the process of the mammogram starts, the patient is asked to remove all the clothing above the waist. No jewelry is allowed during X-ray clicking.
Rest of the Steps Are:
1) Make sure to choose a certified mammogram facility center as it will give assurance of meeting certain medical standards.
Inform the doctor before if you are pregnant or there are chances of your pregnancy.
2) Schedule the test at the time when you think your breast are least likely to be tender. In the woman who hasn't gone through menopause, it is usually during the week after their menstrual cycle. Tenderness in the breast increases during the week and a week before the beginning of the menstrual cycle.
3) There is no need for dietary changes.
4) Do not apply any ointment, deodorant, cream, lotion or body powder on the chest on the day of the mammogram. There may be metallic particles present in them that could interfere with the X-ray.
5) You can ask for over the counter pain medication such as Aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol, etc), ibuprofen (like Advil, Motrin IB) if you feel uneasiness with your mammogram screening. Take the medicine at least an hour before your test starts.
It is suggested to bring your earlier mammogram images or CD with the images to the facility center. It helps the radiologist to compare the two images for any symptoms detection.
How Mammogram is conducted?
- During a mammogram, the female is made to stand in front of an X-ray machine that is specially designed for mammography.
- An X-ray machine then captures black-and-white images of the breast tissues.
- These images are displayed on a computer screen
- The doctor examines the X-ray for the detection of symptom of cancer.