Mammography, what it is used for?
When it comes to cancer, one very important thing is preventive. Especially with regard to breast cancer, which, precisely if caught early, with the right treatments, can lead to a cure.
One of the checkups that women can have is the mammography which is an X-ray performed while the breast is compressed between two plates in order to detect the presence of potentially cancerous formations.
Undergoing mammography may follow the palpation of a lump in a breast or signs that require further diagnostic investigation.
Mammography is an examination that has no particular contraindications, but in women under 40-45 years of age, due to the density of the mammary gland, this investigation may be less readable than ultrasound.
That is why an annual breast ultrasound is recommended for them, while mammography from age 50 onward.
A distinction is made between:
- Screening mammography, which is the examination useful for women who do not present with any signs or symptoms because it allows for early diagnosis of diseases that are still too small to be noticed or perceived by physical palpation alone
- diagnostic mammography, which is essential when symptoms are found in the breast or when abnormalities were found in the previous screening mammogram.
The time to perform a mammogram is 5-10 minutes and there is no preparation before performing it. One can resume normal everyday life immediately.
As a general rule, however, this applies as advice for all women: if there is no risk related to family history, it is a good rule to start performing monthly self-breast examinations from the age of 20, which is also useful to become familiar with your breasts.
From age 50, it is advisable to start mammography and repeat it every two years if the patient has no family history of breast cancer.
For patients considered high risk, the frequency is annual.