It can detect cancers that are too small to see or feel, or are in an early stage and thus not causing any symptoms. The earlier the cancer is caught, the less likelihood there is of needing chemotherapy or a mastectomy.
Breast screening is advised from a womans 50th birthday onwards, but breast changes or lumps can occur at any age, and if you notice anything unusual it is important that you speak to a doctor, who can help you with diagnosis and ease any concerns.
There is no special preparation required in order to have a mammogram. The procedure requires you to undress from the waist up, and a doctor or health professional will position your breasts, one at a time, between two clear plates attached to the x-ray machine.
These plates gently press the breast tissue, which allows for a clearer picture to be taken, and two images are taken of each breast, at different angles. The pressure of the plates on the breasts can be uncomfortable, and in some cases the discomfort may last for a few hours after the x-ray.
If your mammogram shows any abnormal areas of breast tissue, you may be asked to come back for further testing. In some cases the scan can show small collections of calcium in the breast tissue, known as calcification. This can happen due to non-cancerous changes. Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) may also show up on a mammogram.
What to do next
Mammograms are available at our clinic. Please call us if you wish to set up an appointment.
Mammograms are able to detect cancers that are in very early stages, and too small to see or feel. Early detection means a better chance of successful treatment.
Mammograms are not painful. The procedure may cause some discomfort as the breast is pressed between two X-ray plates during the imaging.
Annual mammograms are advised for women aged 50 and over, but your doctor may advise you differently depending on other factors such as family history.