Why would someone get or need a mammogram?
In general, mammography is performed to screen women for signs of breast cancer. It is frequently used to evaluate a woman who has symptoms of a breast disease, such as a lump, nipple discharge, breast pain, dimpling of the skin on the breast, or retraction of the nipple. However, it’s often recommended to screen for breast cancer in women without any symptoms.
In some cases, many small tumors or abnormalities can be seen on a mammogram before they can be felt by a woman or her health professional. Cancer in breasts are most easily treated and cured when they are discovered in the diseases earliest stages. Early screenings through mammography and specialized training of breast radiologists are allowing doctors to detect early breast cancer when treatment can be most successful.
Diagnostic mammography is used to evaluate a patient with abnormal clinical findings that have been found by the woman or her doctor. Diagnostic mammography is often done after an abnormal screening mammography in order to evaluate the findings of the initial exam.
When cancers are small, a patient has more treatment options to choose from and a chance for a cure is greater. The real advantage to diagnosing breast cancer in an early stage is to be able to find it in a phase in which it is possible to remove a small part of the breast only, dramatically increasing the probabilities of cure. Research has shown that annual mammograms lead to early detection of breast cancers, when they are most curable and breast-conservation therapies are available.
Most sources believe research shows clearly that screening women older than 50 years reduces the number of deaths from breast cancer. However, Doctors don't always agree on when a woman should have her first baseline mammogram. You can view a list of recommendations here.
Overall, mammograms do not prevent breast cancer or reduce a woman's risk of developing cancer but they can help in the detection, diagnosis, cure and/or treatment.
- What is a mammogram?
- Why would someone need or get a mammogram?
- What are the different types of mammograms?
- What is getting a mammogram like?
- What are the costs of a mammogram?
- When should I get a mammogram?
- What are the risks of a mammogram?
- What are false-positives and false-negatives?
- Differences with screening, diagnostic & biopsy?