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Mammography

What is Mammography?

Mammography and 3D 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 you are healthy and have no symptoms). Below are early detection guidelines from the American Cancer Society:

  • Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health
  • Clinical breast exam about every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and older
  • Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast change promptly to their healthcare provider. Breast self-exam is an option for women starting in their 20s.

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.