If you have been referred by your Doctor or have a routine Mammogram then you may be wondering what to expect of the appointment, particularly if you’ve not had one before.  This can be worrying because you may have concerns that a problem will be found, or perhaps you’re nervous of what the exam will involve.

What Does a Mammogram Examination Involve?

A Mammogram is usually a routine screening appointment which is the best way to detect early signs of breast cancer.  2D and 3D Mammograms are available and offer differing quality of images for the Doctor to examine whether there is a suspected presence of breast cancer or not in the breasts.  The Radiologist who views the breast scan images will flag up any concerns and then refer these to your Doctor if they suspect there may be a presence of cancer.

Basically a Mammogram is an x-ray image of the breasts that shows any abnormal changes in the tissue, if there are lumps present or any tiny clusters of calcium that can potentially be the first signs of breast cancer.  A Mammogram is the most effective way of detecting breast cancer in its early stages, because lumps are often large by the time the patient would detect them on their own, and would have to be close to the surface of the breast.

How Mammograms Are Interpreted

The Radiologist carrying out your Mammogram will have to interpret the images they see on the x-rays to determine if there is anything of concern to them.  If they determine that any abnormalities are likely due to something healthy rather than of concern then they may request that you return again for another Mammogram in six months time to check whether there have been any changes.

If the Radiologist has concerns that the images may show signs of cancer then they may decide to then do an ultrasound on the breast to get a better image of the area to determine its make up.  If there are still concerns you may be asked to come back for a needle biopsy which will remove a sample of the lump for testing. After this if there are still concerns then a surgical biopsy may be prescribed as the best way to remove the lump in its entirety and have it fully tested as well as some surrounding tissue.

Other Issues Apart From Breast Cancer

As well as breast cancers there are other issues that may be recognized during a Mammogram such as masses or structures that warrant further investigation.  One way things can be investigated is to scan both breasts to look for asymmetry, whether both breasts have the same abnormalities, which might indicate the breasts are actually healthy.  Breast density may also be carried out to determine the fatty tissue density as well as glandular tissue structure and fibrous tissues so it can be determined if these are just natural occurrences rather than a presence of breast cancer.