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Mammogram

A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray that allows doctors to look for changes in breast tissue. Regular mammograms are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early.

Women's HealthCare of Dothan
Dothan, Alabama Obstetrics and Gynecology

Women's HealthCare Dothan, AL Mammogram

Definition

A mammogram is an X-ray picture of your breasts. During a mammogram, your breasts are compressed between two firm surfaces to spread out the breast tissue. Then an X-ray captures black-and-white images that are displayed on a computer screen and examined for signs of cancer.

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.

Screening Mammograms
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.

Diagnostic mammograms
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.

What do mammograms show?

Mammograms can often show abnormal areas in the breast. They can’t tell for sure if an abnormal area is cancer, but they can help health care providers decide if more testing (such as a breast biopsy) is needed. The main types of breast changes found with a mammogram are:
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Calcifications

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Masses

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Asymmetries

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Distortions

Additional Resources

Learn more from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists