Breast Cancer Treatment:
Till about a decade and a half back we didn’t hear much about breast cancer treatment, screening or diagnosis. Today breast cancer is spreading like an epidemic, claiming more lives than before. Women in their late 20s and early 30s are falling prey to this cancer. Genetics, lifestyle issues, environmental factors are among other reasons cited for the surge in the numbers of victims. One way to be safe is to ensure early diagnosis and the best way to do so is going for a mammogram. This is an efficient diagnostic tool with greater accuracy and is arguably a useful preventive tool too.
Who should get a mammogram done?
Ideally, every woman over the age of 40 should get a mammogram done annually to check for signs of breast cancer treatment. This cancer is treatable if detected early and mammograms just help you to do the same. Your radiologist can look at the x-ray of the breasts and know if there are any abnormal growths, mass, lumps, cysts that need investigation.
However, for women who fall under the high-risk category going for a mammogram even before the age of 40 is recommended. Like, if a woman has close relations in the family, for instance, mother or sister who had breast cancer treatment, going for a mammogram after 35 years to check for abnormalities is suggested. In any case, mammograms are not recommended for women less than 25 years of age.
How often should one get a mammogram done?
If one falls under the high-risk category that is with close family relations falling prey to this type of cancer, a mammogram annually after 35 years of age is advised. If one falls in the average or low-risk category a mammogram after 40 is recommended. After that, between 41 to 45 years of age a mammogram should be done once in every two years, and again between 45 to 55 years, it should be done once a year. Depending on your health and risk factors your doctor might suggest how often and when you have to go for a mammogram after that age.
What should you expect during a mammogram?
During a mammogram, a woman is given a special gown to wear and is asked to remove all other clothing such as dress, top, bra, etc. Wearing any jewellery during the screening is not advisable. One needs to stand in front of a special x-ray or mammogram machine that has a platform on which the breasts are placed. The radiologist gently places the breasts on the platform where it is flattened and compressed between two special plates for each x-ray to achieve the clearest picture possible of the breast tissues.
Once the breasts are placed in position, a radiation beam is passed through them to form an image of the breasts on an x-ray film. A front and side view of the breasts is taken to get a clear picture. One picture is taken while the woman faces down the platform and the other while she stands beside the machine for the side view.
Are mammograms accurate?
Like most screening procedures it is possible that a mammogram misses to pick up an abnormality and end up being a false negative. However, they are accurate almost up to 95 percent of times and are a trusted form of breast cancer diagnosis.
There are times when they could be false positive picking up an abnormality which might not be real. If this happens, the radiologist might ask for a repeat mammogram or you might have to go for a breast ultrasound or biopsy. The best way to be alert about your health is never to miss a scheduled mammogram and go for a second opinion or advanced test if it is required.
Do mammograms hurt?
Since the two specialised plates press on the breasts to get the accurate image, it is possible that it leads to some amount of pain and discomfort. Usually, it is not something one can’t put up with. However, if the pain is too much to bear or you have a low pain threshold talk to your radiologist to know how to handle the same. The procedure might continue for more than 30 minutes and it isn’t feasible to be in pain for that long.
Who should not go for a mammogram?
Usually, women below 35 years of age for high-risk category and below 40 years in the low-risk category should not go for a mammogram. It is also not advised for pregnant women.
Are there any side-effects of this diagnostic procedure?
The radiation beam that passes through the breasts for imaging during a mammogram is thought to be potentially harmful and cause damage to the breast tissues. However, these days due to advancement in mammogram technology the exposure is considered to be a low-risk factor as it promises no harm to the breast tissues. Also, there are guidelines to limit the exposure from the mammogram machines, which diagnostic centres have to follow to minimalize damage.
Should you go for a mammogram even if there is no family history of breast cancer?
People with family history of breast cancer should be more vigilant and opt for routine mammograms for early diagnosis. However, this doesn’t mean that women who don’t have a family history of breast cancer treatment don’t need to get a mammogram done.
Genetic mutations, bad lifestyle choices, environmental factors and much more can make a woman prone to this type of cancer. A screening done on time is the best way to limit the damage.
How should you prepare for a mammogram?
It is ideal if you wear a two piece suit for the screening so that you can remove the one above before you place your breasts for the screening. Refrain from using any creams, lotions or deodorants on your breasts or armpits before the screening.
Disclaimer: www.healthnhs.com does not guarantee any specific results as a result of the procedures mentioned here and the results may vary from person to person. The topics in these pages including text, graphics, videos and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only and not to be substituted for professional medical advice.