Why do I need a mammogram?
Mammograms play a key role in breast cancer screening. Mammograms can be used to check for breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease. Mammograms have been shown to reduce the risk of dying of breast cancer. A mammogram can often find or detect breast cancer early, when it’s small and even before a lump can be felt. This is when it’s likely to be easiest to treat. There are two types of mammograms: screening and diagnostic.
Mammograms used to check for breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease are called a screening mammogram. Screening mammograms usually involve two or more x-ray pictures, or images, of each breast. The x-ray images often make it possible to detect tumors that cannot be felt. Screening mammograms can also find microcalcifications (tiny deposits of calcium) that sometimes indicate the presence of breast cancer.
A diagnostic mammogram is used to check for breast cancer after a lump or other sign or symptom of the disease has been found or to investigate suspicious breast changes. Suspicious changes can include: a new breast lump, breast pain, an unusual skin appearance, nipple thickening or nipple discharge. These signs may indicate benign or cancerous conditions. Diagnostic mammograms are used to evaluate unexpected findings on a screening mammogram.