Mammogram screening is something that is done to help with finding breast cancer. It is a low-ray x-ray and offers very few risks to the body. It will check the breasts for any lumps and then place the results on a film or on the computer for a doctor to check. The majority of the lumps or abnormal growths that are found on the breasts are normal and nothing to worry about but there are times that the screen process brings up cancer.
How affective is mammogram screening?
There are pros and cons to screening for breast cancer with this option. The main benefit is that it is linked to finding cancer at early stages and helping with getting treatment in time for curing the problem. However, there are limitations and it cannot detect every form of breast cancer that is possible. This is why it is also important to do a self assessment on the breasts on a regular basis.
The mammogram will also only show up the lumps and changes in the breasts; it will not make it clear if the changes are cancerous or something to worry about.
It is up to the doctor checking the films to make the diagnosis and there are times that it is wrong. This is one of the arguments about whether the screening is something that should be used.
How is the screening done?
Mammogram screening is a painless procedure and just involves you standing in front of a machine, which has an x-ray in it. Your breasts will be placed between the plate and plastic of the x-ray singularly, similar to the way normal x-rays are taken. The x-ray is then taken.
There is no pain for most women but there may be some discomfort. This is usually due to the pinching between the two plates – the idea is to get the breast as flat as possible. This pinch is only there for a few minutes while the picture is taken. The screening is usually finished within 20 minutes.
Different types of mammograms
Because some people will not have any symptoms of breast cancer, there are two different types of mammogram screening. The first is a simple screening, which is done on women with no symptoms. This is a simple x-ray which will then find any lumps and tumors that have not been felt. It can also find calcium deposits in the breast, which can mean that there is breast cancer present.
The second type is a diagnostic, which is used to check any lumps that have been found in the breasts. This is also used when other symptoms of breast cancer have been noted, including discharge in the nipple or a change in the shape. This does take a little longer than the usual screening but this is because it is checking deeper and will need to go through more tissue. The benefit of this is that a technician is able to magnify the x-ray to see the area that is causing the problem more clearly.