Breast Imaging - Mammography
Mammography, or X-ray of the breasts, is an investigation that enables early detection of breast cancer even before you or your doctor detect a lump or become aware of any changes in your breasts. Specialised X-ray machines and equipment are used to take X-rays of both breasts. The pictures taken are then examined and interpreted by our Specialist Breast Trained Radiologists who will report the results back to your doctor. Breast cancer may show up as tiny specks of calcium, masses and densities or subtle distortions on the X-ray.
Detection of early breast cancer, before it has spread to the lymph glands under the arms is more likely to be associated with cure. Many breast cancers these days can be cured by an operation which does not remove the breast. A common cause of a breast lump in women between 35 and 60 years is a cyst, not cancer. No test is perfect… and the same is true for mammography. A small lump in breasts that are dense may not show up on the mammogram, so it is vital that any breast lump be investigated fully. Any lump should be examined by your doctor.
Download Mammography Patient Information Guide.
During the mammography, your breasts come into direct contact with the X-ray equipment, so wearing clothes that are easily slipped off from the waist up, is a good idea. A simple shirt over a skirt or pants is preferable to a dress. Avoid using talcum powder or deodorant on the day of the mammogram. As well as bringing the request form that your doctor gave you, bring any previous mammography films that you may have. Comparisons with X-rays taken in the past are very helpful in determining if there have been any changes.
Does it hurt?
Your breasts have to be compressed between two plates, so there might be some slight discomfort. This is an essential part of the process to ensure the best possible images. It only lasts for a short time. If you have cyclical tenderness, we recommend that you have your mammogram just after your period, if possible, as breasts are less likely to be tender at this time of month. Avoidance of coffee for 48 hours before the test may also lessen discomfort.
Who needs one?
Women with a family history of breast cancer should have regular mammograms commencing at either ten years before the age their relative developed breast cancer, or at age 40 years, whichever occurs first.
Women whose breasts are difficult to examine, for example; due to prior surgery to the breasts, or even because of size.
Anyone who has a new symptom, e.g, a lump.
Why have a mammogram?
Breast cancer affects about 1 in 10 women in Australia and even more in those with a family history of the disease. As mammograms can detect very early cancer – often at the stage when it can be completely cured, it is recommended to women for that reason.
Breast Implants - can a mammogram be performed?
Yes, special techniques are used for women with breast implants to avoid damaging the implant. More views are required of each breast, but less compression is used. Ulreasound and MRI can also be used to assess breast implants and the tissue surrounding the implants. It is helpful to let us know in advance that you have implants, so correct bookings and procedures can be arranged.
Dr Jones & Partners Clinics with Mamography services