A mammogram is an X-ray image of the breast, which doctors use to look for early signs of breast cancer. This diagnostic tool can identify cancerous tissues up to three years before any discernible symptoms of illness. Such early detection is essential to the success of treatments like breast surgery, which can eliminate the cancer before it spreads to other areas of the body.
How a Mammogram Is Conducted
If you’ve never had a mammogram before, knowing what to expect can be reassuring. You will be asked to remove your shirt and bra. You will then place your breast on a flat plate; a parallel plate, called a paddle, is placed on the other side.
While the breast tissue is compressed between the plates, small bursts of x-rays are then passed between these two plates, through the breast tissue. In the resulting image, low-density tissue, like fat, will appear as translucent, darker shades of grey, while denser tissues will appear whiter against the grey background.
These denser tissues could be tumors or liquid cysts. They could even be connective or glandular tissues. If there is any potential uncertainty regarding your mammogram, you will be called back for a second one.
What Happens After an Abnormal Result
Don’t panic. Whatever the results may be, it’s important to follow up on any abnormal mammogram to rule out the possibility of cancer. A benign breast condition like hyperplasia—an overgrowth of cells—could be to blame.
If it does turn out that you have cancerous tissue, you want to know as soon as possible so you can undertake treatments like breast surgery immediately. The sooner cancers are treated, the easier they are to contain and the better the possible outcomes for patients.
With October marking Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to schedule a mammogram. These guidelines can help determine if you need one. Don’t delay this screening test—it could save your life.
If you require a biopsy or breast surgery following an abnormal mammogram, Ozark Surgical Group has four experienced surgeons to help. Located in Mountain Home, AR, these providers perform an array of surgeries from hernia repair to vascular procedures. You can find out more about their surgical procedures online. To schedule a consultation with any of their four providers regarding breast surgery, call (870) 425-9120.