The first mammogram, what should we know?

Posted by Xanit Internacional Xanit Internacional | Posted in ALL ABOUT CANCER, women's health | Posted on 07-01-2020

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According to the Spanish Association Against Cancer, “around 32,825 new breast cancer cases are diagnosed annually in Spain”. With such figures, we believe it is of utmost importance to raise awareness among the society of the importance of research and early diagnosis of breast cancer since it is the most frequent tumour in western women.

For that purpose Dr Fran Fernández, responsible for the Breast Unit at Vithas Xanit International Hospital, explains today what mammography consists of and everything you need to know before making your first mammogram.

A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast that allows detecting breast lesions before they even give symptoms (palpable lump, retraction of the skin or the areola-nipple complex, bloody discharge from the nipple, lumps in the armpits, etc.).

When should we undergo the first mammogram?

For risk-free patients, it is advisable to start with mammograms at the age of 40, however, the family history should also be taken into account. If there is a history of breast, ovarian, and/or prostate cancer, this test is usually started at the age of 35.

Mammography should be repeated every year or every other year if the results of the previous test came back normal. If you are a patient at risk, the doctor may indicate whether it is necessary to perform this test every six months or combine it with other imaging tests, such as ultrasound or MRI.

 

Some recommendations to keep in mind before performing a mammogram

  • If you have a very sensitive breast, to avoid pain from the breast compression, it is recommended to perform mammography after the end of menstruation, since the breast is less sensitive because it has less hormonal influence.
  • It’s important not to be afraid. Mammography lasts between 15 and 30 minutes, it is a fast process and carries no risk. Therefore, it is important to be relaxed, since it is a routine test and it does not involve any complications.
  • Try not to wear any metal objects on the day of the screening such as earrings, bracelets, etc., because you will have to remove them for testing.
  • It is also advisable to wear comfortable clothes that are easily taken off, as the chest must be bare for the test.
  • Only in the case of being pregnant could there be a contraindication to take the test because it can pose a risk to the baby, although your doctor will always advise you whether to do it or not.
  • If the patient is in the process of breastfeeding, it is advisable not to perform the mammogram because the breast is anatomically very transformed due to changes that occur during lactation; only in cases of high suspicion of breast cancer the mammogram is indicated.
  • In the case of patients with breast implants, you should be aware that the implants may decrease the sensitivity of the test. In these situations mammography can also be supplemented with ultrasound and resonance imaging.

According to AECC, the most important means for early diagnosis of breast cancer is mammography, and the chances of cure of cancers detected at the initial stage are almost 100%.

That is why it is essential to perform mammography, complemented by self-examination at home.

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