When is this exam indicated?
Mammography is performed either in cases of suspicious symptoms to find the cause of symptoms or for preventive purposes in asymptomatic women to reduce breast cancer mortality. Secondary prevention, or early detection, can begin with mammography at age 40. Several studies have shown that in the age group between 40 and 49 years, preventive mammography is effective if performed every 12 months, while over 50 years, in the absence of particular risks, mammography is effective if performed at least every 2 years.
How is it performed?
To perform the mammography the breast is gently compressed with a special flexible plate; the compression, if done progressively, causes mostly a slight discomfort, some women report pain, a few very strong pain. The compression does not cause any damage and the pain usually resolves in a few minutes. Compression is necessary to reduce the thickness of the breast, which allows for good quality images and reduced radiation dose.
How to prepare
Avoid smearing creams or talcum powder on your breasts before the mammography. Make sure you are not pregnant and, if in doubt, report it to the radiology specialist prior to undergoing the procedure. If you have implants, report this to the radiology specialist performing the examination.
Always bring mammograms, breast ultrasounds, breast MRIs or previously performed needle aspiration and needle biopsy resutls.