Mammogram Dubai | 15 November 2021

Breast screening aims to find breast cancers early, when they have the best chance of being cured.

Cancer screening involves testing apparently healthy people for signs that could show that a cancer is developing. Breast screening uses a test called mammography which involves taking x-rays of the breasts. Screening can help to find breast cancers early when they are too small to see or feel. These tiny breast cancers are usually easier to treat than larger ones. It is important to remember that screening will not prevent you from getting breast cancer but aims to find early breast cancers. Overall, the breast screening programme finds cancer in around 9 out of every 1,000 women having screening.

Mammograms are more difficult to read in younger women because their breast tissue is denser. So the patterns on the mammogram don’t show up as well. There is little evidence to show that regular mammograms for women below the screening age would reduce deaths from breast cancer.

Breast cancers found by screening are generally at an early stage. Very early breast cancers are usually easier to treat, may need less treatment, and are more likely to be cured. Almost all women diagnosed with breast cancer at the earliest possible stage survive for at least 5 years after diagnosis and are likely to be cured.

The examination is usually conducted with the patient standing, resting against the machine. For the best mammogram pictures, it is necessary to compress the breasts as flat as possible. The breast is held firmly in the correct position on the film by a special plastic plate. The compression is essential to ensure that the breast does not move while the film is being taken, and the best possible detail and clarity is obtained. The compression of the breasts can be uncomfortable, but it is only for a short time. Many women experience increased tenderness of the breast prior to menstruation. If this applies to you, please avoid scheduling your mammogram at this time to minimize any discomfort. Generally, the examination will take 20 to 30 minutes. Do not be concerned if the radiologist requests additional views – occasionally this is necessary for technical reasons or to view a particular area better. An ultrasound of the breasts may also be necessary, particularly in younger women where the breast tissue is very dense. On completion, the films will be studied in detail by the radiologist who will report on the findings to the referring doctor.

Frequency of the mammograms vary in different health systems. American Cancer Society recommends that women between 40 and 44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year. Women 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year. Women 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year, or they can choose to continue with yearly mammograms.

Dr Barbara Karin Vela is an International Member of Royal College Of General Practitioners, UK

Mammogram Dubai | 15 November 2021