Before we start discussing the appropriate age for beginning mammograms, let’s understand what mammograms really are. Mammograms are nothing but x-ray imaging of the breasts conducted to see any abnormalities around the breast area. It is a useful tool to detect early signs of breast cancer.
According to Guidelines from the American College of Physicians, a woman who is not at risk of breast cancer should start getting every alternate year starting from the age of 50 and start having the conversation about the risks and benefits of mammograms with their doctors starting at the age of 40.
There is no definite age when you should start taking mammograms, as the answer differs from person to person as well from organization to organization. For example, the American Cancer Society recommends that a woman at average risk of breast cancer should start mammograms at the age of 45 and should get the screening done at least once a year. Similarly, American College of Radiology and Society Of Breast Imaging recommends women with an average risk of breast cancer to start mammograms at the age of 40, and consult for the same by the age of 30 so that the early symptoms are detected way beforehand.
What Is The Difference Between Screening Mammograms and Diagnostic Mammograms?
A Screening Mammogram is a routine screening, performed annually to check for any abnormalities in the breast tissues. The imaging includes two pictures for each breast from different angles.
Whereas, a Diagnostic Mammogram is performed only when an abnormality is detected during the regular Screening Mammogram. This screening utilizes extra views and additional imaging techniques to understand the abnormality better. This process is supervised by an expert radiologist at the time of the study.
Benefits of Mammography
Detecting symptoms of breast cancer at an early stage can help take better measures to treat the condition, with minimal risk. This also helps avoid lengthy and painful surgeries.
Even though undergoing mammograms can be a wise decision, it also differs from person to person. It is best to consult your medical expert before getting a mammogram, and also get a consultancy for the same early on.
How Are Mammograms Done?
- You will be asked to stand in front of the machine and the technician will then place your breasts on a plastic tray.
- Another plate known as paddle will firmly press your breasts which may make you feel pressure.
- The above mentioned plates will help hold the breasts while the x-ray is taken.
- The mammogram machine creates x-rays that pass through the breasts towards the locators present on the other side.
- The detector transmits electrical signals to the computer to form a digital image.
- These steps are repeated till all the views of the breasts are captured.
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