A mammogram can be defined as a specialized screening X-ray of the breast which is captured by a device that compresses and consequently flattens the breast. It helps health professionals to decide whether or not a lump in your breast is a gland, tumor or a harmless cyst.
A mammogram can make you experience discomfort, soreness, and pressure that lasts for a short while after the procedure ends. Generally, they are used to detect body changes that occur due to cancer. Otherwise, it would have been detected in the later stages when cancer has progressed.
The objective of mammogram screenings is to assist women patients to find cancer, especially if physical symptoms were not manifested. Such symptoms include a change in breast appearance or a palpable lump.
Women at Higher Risk
If you belong to the category of women who are placed at a higher risk of getting breast cancer, then you should go for mammogram screening at an earlier age and more frequent intervals. You can have increased risk because of your personal history (or close family history) of ovarian or breast cancer, if you have a genetic mutation or if you have had significant exposure to chest radiation.
- Low risk – Between the age of 50 and 70. You should have routine mammograms done every three years.
- Moderate to high risk – You should have routine annual mammograms from the age of 40.
- High risk – This is for women under the age of 40. You should have annual MRI scans from the age of 30.
- Significantly increased risk- You should have annual MRI scans from the age of 20.
How Often Should You Get a Mammogram?
The American College of Surgeons and the American Cancer Society have recommended that you should get your first baseline mammogram when you are between the age of 35 and 40. As from 40 years, you should have it done each and every year without fail.
If you’re in the category of women that are considered to have a higher risk of developing breast cancer, then you should have your mammogram sooner. You should have it earlier than the recommendations given and more frequently just to be safe.
Current statistics indicate that one woman in every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the course of their life. Despite gender, age is the most critical factor of contracting breast cancer. This is the reason why a majority of countries have strived to set up screening programs which invite women of specific ages to undergo routine screening mammograms.