Regular Mammography Tests Can Help Identify Breast Cancer Early

Mammography is a type of medical imaging that involves using a low-dose x-ray equipment to see within the breasts.

A breast lump is a lump in your breast that grows over time. While this kind of a lump can indicate the presence of breast cancer, this is not always the case as quite often a lump is found to be benign or non-cancerous. However, even some of these have the potential to eventually turn cancerous. In India, the mortality rate due to breast cancer is high even though this is a form of cancer that is easily treatable if detected in the early stages. Breast cancer is a life-threatening condition that can be discovered quickly during basic health checks. 

Mammography is a type of medical imaging that involves using a low-dose x-ray equipment to see within the breasts. Early detection of breast cancer decreases your chances of dying from the disease by 25-30 per cent or more. Sonomammography is a form of mammography where ultrasound is used to check the breast health. This is a non-invasive treatment imaging technique that traces blood flow to specific regions inside the breasts and to detect breast cancer or any other abnormalities. Because it is a basic ultrasound technique, it does not need much preparation. The individual being examined lies down on the examination table. A radiologist administers a gel to the breast area and scans the entire chest area and armpits for any lumps or masses with a specific probe (linear, high frequency probe).

Mammograms should be started at the age of 40, or sooner if the woman is at high risk. Mammography is a quick treatment that takes approximately 20 minutes and causes no discomfort for most women. The process is risk-free: a mammography exposes you to only a little quantity of radiation. If you have thick breasts or are under the age of 50, a sonomammogram is recommended. 

Listed below are the few simple facts about mammogram and your guide to get the test which every woman needs to keep in mind.

1.Breasts are more sensitive in the days leading up to and during menstruation. Because a mammogram involves compressing your breasts between two plates and flattening the tissue, doing so with hypersensitive breasts can be painful. It should be a week after your menstruation is over.

2.You may experience discomfort or pain during and after your mammogram because the imaging procedure compresses your breasts. Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever may be beneficial.

3.The doctor will inquire about your family history of breast cancer at your appointment, as having relatives with the condition increases your chances of acquiring breast cancer yourself.

It's vital to have your mammogram even if no one in your family has experienced breast cancer. Breast cancer is considered to be inherited in about 5 per cent to 10 per cent of cases.

4.You'll need to undress from the waist up for the mammography, so wear something that you can readily remove.

5.A screening mammography should take no more than 15 minutes.

6.If you've had a mammogram before and are travelling to a different centre, make arrangements to have your previous findings transferred before your appointment or bring them with you to your exam.

7.Mammograms not only provide you peace of mind, but they can also detect breast cancer early on, making it easier to cure.

Breast health matters

The causes of breast lumps are many, such as breast tissue changes wherein lumpiness is caused by tiny, fluid-filled sacs and fibrous tissue, when fluid becomes stuck in the milk ducts, resulting in breast cysts (most commonly observed in premenopausal women). Fibroadenomas are the most frequent benign (noncancerous) breast tumor noticed in young women (20s and 30s) of reproductive age. Similarly, a breast infection can also cause a lump appearance. Breast cancer, which is a cancerous tumor that develops inside the breast tissue, is one of the most dangerous outcomes of a lump in the breast.

The number of women detected with advanced stage of breast cancer are high in India due to a lack of awareness about breast health among women. Many hesitate to try self-examination and avoid discussing with their partner or family members even if they experience some change. Also, very few women undergo regular mammograms. Self-breast examination is recommended for women below 40 years as they can feel and examine for any lump, discharge from the nipple, ulceration, skin irritation and skin thickening. 

Consult your doctor if you notice a lump in your breast or beneath your arm. Your healthcare practitioner will evaluate the cause of the breast lump and whether it requires further investigation or treatment. 


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