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What is Mammography?

Mammography is an X-ray technique that's used to create an image of the breast. Mammography is used to detect cancer or other breast disease.

Signs of Breast Cancer

  • Lumps in the breast or armpit
  • Thickening of the breast
  • Dimpling of the breast
  • Heavy or bloody discharge from nipple

The technique can reveal changes in the breast before they can be discovered by a woman or her healthcare provider. It can also indicate whether or not a lump is cancerous (most are not). A biopsy is needed for confirmation.

Why are Mammograms recommended?

Mammograms are generally recommended for two reasons:

  • Screening - Regular screening is recommended for women, starting at age 40, even if they appear to be healthy and have no symptoms.  Once is not enough. A mammogram is recommended once before the age of 40, every 1-2 years for women between ages 40 and 49, and annually for women age 50 and older.
  • Diagnosis - Any woman who has signs or symptoms of breast cancer should have a mammogram. Further tests may also be given to rule out the presence of cancer.  

What are the advantages of Mammography?

Mammography provides early warning. Most experts feel that mammography is the best way to detect cancer when no symptoms exist.

Mammography is accurate for diagnosing cancer. Overall, the accuracy rate is very high - especially when used in combination with a physical exam. Mammography is especially useful when a breast is very large, making lump detection more difficult.