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Mammography: What Age Should You Get?

Mammography: What Age should You Get?

Mammography: What Age should You Get?

It is well known that breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women worldwide. Mammography is one of the detecting tests of breast cancer.

Early detection of breast cancer leads to successful treatments. In developed countries 89% of women who were diagnosed with breast cancer are still alive five years after they were diagnosed. Early detection of breast cancer increases the survival rates. That’s the reason why regular mammograms are recommended for every women over the age of 40.


What Is a Mammography?

A mammography is an X-ray of the breasts that help take a closer look of the breast tissue. Mammography helps diagnose the cancer in early stages, even when there are no signs and symptoms of the disease.

There are two basic types of mammograms: screening mammograms and diagnostic mammograms. Screening mammograms are used to look for signs of early breast cancer in women over the age of 40. Screening mammograms are recommended every one to two years. A diagnostic mammogram is used to look for breast cancer in women who already have signs and symptoms of breast cancer, such as breast pain, a lump, discharge from the nipple, changes in breast size or shape, and even thickening of the breast’s skin.

Regular mammograms are beneficial for women after 40, but especially for women over the age of 50.


Disadvantages of Mammograms

Mammograms are X-rays and they use radiation. Repeated mammograms in a short period of time are not recommended as the radiation it self is potentially dangerous. However, studies have shown that the benefits of mammograms are greater than the disadvantages or possible risks of getting cancer after exposure to radiation during mammography. Pregnant women should avoid mammography as they can harm the growing baby. Always keep in mind that there is a chance for false negative or false positive results of mammography. A false positive result will lead to much more medical tests, mental stress and anxiety. A false negative result, on the other hand will make you ignore the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. It will lead to its diagnosis in later stages, when the disease is advanced.


What Can Mammograms Show?

Mammograms show any changes in the structure of the breasts. Radiologists usually look for any lump or mass or possible calcifications in the breast tissue.

Lumps or masses according to their shape, size or edges can give an idea whether they are benign or malign. Benign masses always look smooth and round with clear and well defined edges, while breast cancer often has irregular shape and jagged outline.

Calcifications are deposits of calcium in the breast tissue. They appear a small white spot on a mammography. There are two types of calcifications: microcalcifications and macrocalcifications. Microcalcifications are usually found in an read with rapidly diving cells, while macrocalcfications are usually calcium deposits caused by aging and they are not a sign of cancer.


What If My Screening Mammogram Shows a Problem?

If your mammogram is normal, you can relax until your next one. If you have a screening test result that suggests cancer, your doctor will order some further tests, which will probably include:

  • Diagnostic mammography,
  • Ultrasound,
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and
  • Biopbsy


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This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not medical advice.

If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.