An X-ray picture of the breast and surrounding tissue is created during a mammography. Women who show no symptoms of breast cancer are given a screening mammography to look for the illness. After discovering a lump or another breast cancer sign, a diagnostic mammography is performed to look for the illness.
The Benefits of Mammograms
The main benefit of a mammogram is that it has the potential to detect breast cancer early. Early detection means earlier treatment, possibly before it has spread, resulting in a reduction in breast cancer deaths. It also means that many more women being treated for breast cancer are able to keep their breasts. When caught early, the chance of localized cancers is high, meaning the cancer can be removed without resorting to breast removal (mastectomy).
The Risks of Mammograms
Some women may worry about the risk of radiation exposure from a mammogram, but modern-day mammography involves very little radiation. Another possible mammography risk is the potential for a false negative, which is when breast cancer can hide behind normal breast tissue. Additionally, mammography can identify an abnormality that may look like cancer, but, in reality, is completely benign. This is called a false positive. A false positive results in more tests and follow-up visits, not to mention additional stress and worry.
The majority of screenings provide two distinct images of each breast. Pictures of both breasts are taken in order to compare any anomalies. Medical professionals may find calcifications, fibroadenomas, and cysts in the breast when searching for cancer. It is more difficult to detect cancer on a mammography picture the more thick a breast is. This is due to the fact that cancer and thick tissue both appear white on screens.
Compared to fatty breast tissue, dense breast tissue seems to be more conducive to the growth of breast cancer. Consequently, having thick breasts may somewhat raise your chance of developing breast cancer. Breast density is not a significant risk factor for cancer on its own. Your total risk depends on details like your age, whether you’ve ever had breast cancer, and whether any of your close family members, like your mother or sister, have also had the disease. If you have thick breasts, Dr. Karin Vela can help you decide which screening option is appropriate for you by going over your options.