A mammogram is an X-ray of breast cancer. It is a screening tool that is used for the detection of breast cancer in women who might have breast problems such as a lump, pain, or nipple discharge and also in women who have no breast complaints. It detects breast cancer, benign tumors, and cysts before they can be detected by palpation (touch).
Mammograms have been in the use for past 30 years but the past 15 years have improved the quality of both the technique and the results to a great extent.
How does a mammogram work?
A mammogram is done by a machine that is designed to diagnose only the breast tissues. It works by taking x-rays that are at lower doses than the usual x-rays. The machine contains 2 plates that are used to compress or flatten the breast to spread the tissues apart. It helps to get a better image while using fewer radiations.
Why mammograms are important?
Life saviors: Mammograms detects breast cancer and the only way you can reduce your risk of dying from breast cancer is through early detection. Finding breast cancer early reduces your risk of dying by 25-30%. Moreover, it allows us more treatment options and a better chance of recovery.
Safe and effective: Mammograms can find lumps 2 or 3 years before your or primary care provider can feel their presence.
Be a role model: Encourage women in your life to get their annual mammogram by having yours. Do it for yourself and for those you love. Remember this test may save your life.
Who should get mammograms?
• The American College of Radiology (ACR) recommends that women at the age of 40 should start getting mammograms on regular basis, every 1 to 2 years.
• In Pakistan, younger females aged 15-40 have also been seen developing breast cancer. One might say that it is uncommon in young women, but still, it is the most frequent cancer in women under 40, accounting for 30–40%.
If you have a personal or family history of breast cancer, the doctors may recommend that you start screenings earlier, more often, and also use some additional tools. Is mammogram safe?
Yes, the procedure is safe because the exposure to the number of radiations from the mammograms is very little. Having a mammogram only takes about 20 minutes and the discomfort is minimal. It is not harmful or painful whatsoever.
In a nutshell, mammograms are of crucial importance if you want to save yourself from a breast cancer death. The mammogram units can be found in laboratories. Moreover, Pink Ribbon Pakistan has implanted 2 mammogram units of the highest quality and detection rate and the functioning will start from Oct 2021.
Take a mammogram because early detection saves lives.