A mammogram is a valuable and life saving examination in controlling breast cancer, and can diagnose cancer at an early stage when treatment is most effective. After a certain age it is recommended to have a mammogram, however many women are not consistent with their annual retesting. Some studies even show that there are women who have never had a mammogram. The reasons why women avoid having a mammogram is neglection, the fear of it being painful, fear of the result, and perhaps the belief that something bad will never happen to them. The risk of breast cancer unfortunately increases with age, so the annual exam is becoming more and more necessary to reduce the death rate from this disease. Prevention saves lives!
1. When should a woman without a family history of breast cancer have her first mammogram?
Women should, depending on their age and family history, check their breasts periodically. In women without a family history, the first mammogram should be between 38 and 40 years. At a younger age, a mammogram may be recommended after an ultrasound finding or after feeling a palpable mass on the breast.
2. At what age should a woman with a family history of breast cancer have a mammogram?
Women with a family history of an immediate family member should begin mammogram testing approximately 10 years earlier than the age at which the breast cancer appeared in that family member.
3. Can younger women with a family history, but not in the age group to undergo mammography, alternatively perform another examination?
In women aged 25-30 mammography is not common because the mammary gland is very dense and therefore the test is of low diagnostic value. Moreover, the breasts are more sensitive to radiation and thus it is better to avoid radiation if it is not needed. If there is a clinical diagnosis, then a mammogram can be performed at any age. If a woman has a relative with breast cancer, she may undergo a clinical breast examination and ultrasound at regular intervals until they are able to have their first mammogram, which must be done 10 years earlier than the age at which breast cancer appeared to the member's family.
4. How often do you need to repeat the mammogram?
Yearly mammograms are recommended after the age of 40. The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. Therefore, by having a mammogram every year, we have the opportunity to detect if any malignancy is developing at an early stage and therefore have a better prognosis and an increased life expectancy.
5. On what day of the cycle should a mammogram be performed?
It is suggested to have a mammogram between the 7th and 12th day of the cycle, counting from the first day of menstruation and not the end of the period. The reason is that the breasts are enlarged after ovulation and they appear very dense on mammogram.Therefore the test is of low diagnostic value and will result in wrong conclusions.
6. How reliable is a mammogram?
It is reliable and remains the examination of choice for early detection of cancer, because of its ability to detect the mikrocalcifications. However, for more accurate diagnosis mammography should be supplemented by clinical examination and breast ultrasound. Today, with the use of digital mammography, we have more reliable results and in combination with ultrasound and clinical examination, the detection of breast cancer have increased.
7. Is a mammogram painful?
No, is not painful, but there is a slight compression of the breasts in order to obtain better and clearer pictures. In cases where the breasts are very dense, more pressure must be applied, to the point that it is tolerated by the patient. With digital mammography and the latest technology, this discomfort has been reduced greatly, due to the better image clarity.
8. Besides cancer, what else can a mammogram show?
It can give us information on palpable or not palpable abnormalities of the breast, which can be benign or malignant. The non-palpable lesions depicted on mammography and can not be perceived by the clinician or the woman during self-examination. Mammography may determine the existence of calcifications, cysts, lipomas, fibroadenomas, hamartomas and other benign breast diseases.
9. Can a mammogram give wrong results?
Sometimes it can give incorrect results. Ιnternationally, rates of false results range between 10 and 15%, and this is usually due to increased breast density which can coat the lesion (false negative result) or to overlying fibrogradular tissue so as to illustrate a false lesion (false positive result). The correct results depend mainly on the quality of mammography and radiologist’s experience.
10. What happens eventually with the radiation the patient receives from a mammogram? Is it capable of causing cancer itself?
Studies have shown that there is no correlation between the development of breast cancer and mammography, because the amount of radiation received by the patient is extremely low. The radiation dose of mammography is negligible before the potential benefits of early diagnosis of breast cancer.
11. Is digital mammography more reliable than classical?
Yes, it is more reliable because it uses digital receptors and computers instead of x-ray film. This allows for the manipulation of the images for better resolution, if needed, and all with less radiation to the patient. The price also includes an ultrasound examination.
12. What is the difference between classical and digital mammography?
The difference between classical and digital mammography lies in the fact that digital mammography is the ideal method for young women, women with dense breasts, and those with silicone implants, and and with no reported risks or side effects when properly used.
13. In cases with total or partial mastectomy, is it possible to perform a mammogram on the operated breast?
When a total mastectomy has been performed, a woman cannot undergo mammography on the side in which the breast has been removed. But it is imperative to undergo mammography in the other breast every year. In the case of partial mastectomy, a woman can and must undergo mammography in both breasts.
14. After a mammogram, can I feel safe?
Many times some other additional tests, such as clinical examination and ultrasound, are needed in order to have accurate and reliable diagnosis. A mammogram is advantageous to the discovery of non-palpable abnormalities, but there should also be additional tests such as an ultrasound.
15. How can you turn to "Kotziamanis Biodiagnostics" for a mammogram?
This can be done either by appointment online or by phone.
16. How is a mammogram performed?
Each breast will be positioned between two flat plates and compressed. The compression will be firm and may be uncomfortable; however, it should only last a few seconds whilst the x-ray is being taken. Initially two images will be taken of each breast but further images may be required. It is a fast test, taking less than 8 minutes to perform. The breast being imaged appears automatically on the computer where the physician radiologist will be able to read and edit it.
17. How much is a digital mammography examination at "Kotziamanis Biodiagnostics"?
The cost of digital mammography is 120 euros. The price also includes an ultrasound examination.