Breast related health problems are detected with the help of Mammography.
Mammography (also called mastography) is the process of using low-energy X-rays (usually around 30 kVp) to examine the human breast, which is used as a diagnostic and screening tool. The goal of mammography is the early detection of breast cancer, typically through detection of characteristic masses and/or microcalcifications.
Like all X-rays, mammograms use doses of ionizing radiation to create images. These images are then analyzed for any abnormal findings. It is normal to use lower-energy X-rays (typically Mo-K) than those used for radiography of bones. Ultrasound, ductography, positron emission mammography (PEM), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are adjuncts to mammography. Ultrasound is typically used for further evaluation of masses found on mammography or palpable masses not seen on mammograms. Ductograms are still used in some institutions for evaluation of bloody nipple discharge when the mammogram is non-diagnostic. MRI can be useful for further evaluation of questionable findings as well as for screening pre-surgical evaluation in patients with known breast cancer to detect any additional lesions that might change the surgical approach, for instance from breast-conserving lumpectomy to mastectomy. Other procedures being investigated include tomosynthesis.
Mammogram or Mammography
What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. There are two types of mammograms. A screening mammogram is used to detect breast changes in women who have no signs or symptoms of breast cancer. It usually involves two x-rays of each breast. Mammograms make it possible to detect tumors.
A diagnostic mammogram is an x-ray of the breast used to check for breast cancer after a lump or other sign or symptom of breast cancer has been found. Signs of breast cancer may include pain, skin thickening, nipple discahrge or a change in breast size or shape. A diagnostic mammogram may also be used to evaluate changes found during a screening mammogram, or to view breast tissue when it is difficult to obtain a screening mammogram because of special circumstances, such as the presence of breast implants.
When should women begin to have mammograms?
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommends that women age 40 and older have mammograms every 1 to 2 years.
Women at higher than average risk of breast cancer should talk with their physicians about whether to have mammograms before age 40 and how often to have them.
What are the risk factors?
As a woman gets older, her risk of having breast cancer becomes greater.
The following factors increase a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer:
Women who have had breast cancer are more likely to develop a second breast cancer.
A woman’s chance of developing breast cancer is increased if her mother, sister and/or daughter have a history of breast cancer, particularly if diagnosed before age 50.
Changes seen with breast biopsy
Women who have had two or more breast biopsies for other benign conditions also have an increased chance of developing breast cancer. This increased risk is due to the condition that led to the biopsy itself.
Specific alterations in certain genes increase the risk of breast cancer. These alterations are rare; they are estimated to account for no more than 10% of all breast cancers.
Reproductive and Menstrual History
Women who began having periods before age 12 or who went through menopause after age 55 are at an increased risk. Women who have their first child after age 30 or who never have a child are at an increased risk.
Long-term Use of Menopausal Hormone Therapy Women who use combination estrogen-progestin menopausal hormone therapy fr more than 5 years have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
Breasts appear dense on a mammogram if they contain many glands and ligaments and do not have a lot of fatty tissue. Because breast cancers tend to develop in the dense breast tissue of the breast, older women whose mammograms show more dense tissue are at an increased risk.
Women who had radiation therapy to the chest (including the breasts) before age 30 are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer throughout their lives.
The drug DES was given to some pregnant women in the US between 1941 and 1971. Those who took DES during pregnancy may have a slightly higher risk.
Studies have found that the chances of getting breast cancer after menopause is higher in women who are overweight.
Physical Activity Levels
Women who are physically inactive throughout life may have an increased risk of breast cancer.
Studies suggest that the more alcohol a woman drinks, the greater her chances of developing breast cancer.
What are the chances that a woman in the United States might get breast cancer?
Age is the most important risk factor for breast cancer. The older a woman is, the greater her chance of developing breast cancer. Current rates suggest that 13.2 percent of women (or one in eight) born today will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some time in their lives. This statistic is based on population averages.
How Much Does A Mammogram Cost?
Screening mammograms usually cost between $50 and $150. It varies from country to country in some countries it costs less than $20. Most insurance companies now have laws requiring health insurance companies to reimburse all or part of the cost of screening.
Remember to check your breasts every month!