Women 40 years and over are advised to go for mammogram tests as part of their health check-ups at least once a year to screen for any cancerous cells in their breast.
If you are wondering what a mammogram is, whether the myths surrounding it are true and if it hurts, we have you covered. This is what you need to know about mammography tests, also known as mammogram tests.
What is it?
A mammogram test is an X-ray of the breast that uses radiation to screen and diagnose cancerous lumps found in the breast. Cancer can affect 1 in 27 women in South Africa, even if you have never had a family history of it. Therefore, it is crucial to go for a mammogram test once a year. One of the myths is that mammograms cause breast cancer, but this is false as the machine produces a limited amount of radiation.
What happens during a mammogram test?
Mention that you would like to go for a mammogram test and you could soon find some interesting myths and responses. One of these myths is that your breast is flattened or enlarged by the test and that it is painful.
The fact is that it could feel uncomfortable, but it is something that you will not notice as the procedure continues. Should you feel any pain during the procedure, inform your doctor or technician.
You will have to undress above the waist, but you will be given a gown to cover yourself from behind. A technologist or doctor will position your breasts for the mammogram. Your breast will then be compressed by a plastic plate that moves down onto the breasts for a few seconds. This allows the radiologist to see more detail of the breast and decrease the amount of radiation during the procedure. The procedure will take about 20 minutes.
What happens after a mammogram test?
For men and women who have completed a mammogram test the next step is usually to wait for the results. Should any suspicious lumps appear, your doctor or technician could call you in for a biopsy where they will insert a needle to remove cells from the area. These cells will then be sent to a laboratory to be checked. Depending on the results you could be referred to a specialist for surgery. You have the option of getting a second opinion if you are not satisfied with the results.
No matter the outcome of the results, having a support base is something that everyone needs. It is possible to get free screenings from organisations such as the Pink Drive that also provides mobile clinics in various areas.