What happens during breast screening?
Having a mammogram doesn't have to be a daunting experience. Our professionals will help you throughout the exam.
Screening mammograms are used to find breast cancers early, before they can be seen or felt. A mammogram is a diagnostic test used to look for any problems within the breast and surrounding tissue. By finding breast cancers early, screening mammograms reduce deaths from breast cancer.
‘It is recommended every one to two years for women once they reach 40 years of age and every year once they reach 50 years of age. Before 40 years of age in patients who have a strong family history of breast cancer’
Undressing to the waist is an essential step to getting a clear scan. You will have to allow your breasts to be seen and even handled by a relative stranger. Take comfort from the fact that your mammographer is a professional, here to help and always a female.
The mammographer will then place one breast at a time between two plates on the mammography machine. The machine will press firmly on your breast for about 10 seconds to take the picture. The grip needs to be firm to get the best quality image to help diagnose any issues. Any material other than breast tissue in the scan would obscure details and render the image useless.
Each breast needs to be scanned twice, once from top to bottom and again from side to side. Each scan takes about one minute. Once the scan is taken, the compression will automatically release and you'll be free to move away from the machine.
The radiation exposure
Mammograms use X-rays to take detailed images of the breast tissue. This exposes the patient to a very low dose of radiation. Every exposure to radiation comes with a small risk, but it is much lower than the risk of not having the exam.
Most women who come for a screening don't have cancer. Around 96 in every 100 women tested will get a normal result. About four women will require extra tests but three of them will be given the all clear. So chances are, even if something is discovered in the exam, it's not breast cancer after all.Being aware of your own breasts and self-checking regularly is still the best defense against breast cancer.