The incidence of breast cancer is increasing in women around the world. It has become more important to be aware of your breasts and do regular screening to detect early changes.

There are two ways of detecting cancer in the breast early

Breast self- examination refers to being aware of your own breasts and doing regular examinations to detect any possible problems. See bse below

The second method is doing Xray screening like mammograms and breast ultrasound.

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 of your breasts that are displayed on a computer screen and examined by a doctor who looks for signs of cancer.

A mammogram can be used either for screening or for diagnostic purposes

Screening Mammography:

Screening mammography is used to detect breast changes in women who have no signs or symptoms or observable breast abnormalities. The goal is to detect cancer before clinical signs are noticeable.

Diagnostic Mammography:

Diagnostic mammography is used to investigate suspicious breast changes, such as a breast lump, breast pain, an unusual skin appearance, nipple thickening or nipple discharge. It’s also used to evaluate abnormal findings on a screening mammogram. A diagnostic mammogram includes additional mammogram images.

When to have your mammogram

Talk to your doctor about your risk factors and the benefits and risks of screening. Together, you can decide what screening mammography schedule is best for you.

Women with an average risk of breast cancer. Many women begin mammograms at age 40 and have them every one to two years.

  • Women with a high risk of breast cancer. Women with a high risk of breast cancer may benefit by beginning screening mammograms before age 40. Talk to your doctor for an individualized program. Your risk factors, such as a family history of breast cancer, may lead your doctor to recommend magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in combination with mammograms.

To prepare for your Mammogram:

Schedule the test for a time when your breasts are least likely to be tender. If you haven’t gone through menopause, that’s usually during the week after your menstrual peri-od. Your breasts are most likely to be tender the week before and the week during your period.

  • Bring your prior mammogram images.
  • . Avoid using deodorants, antiperspirants, powders, lotions, creams or perfumes under your arms or on your breasts. Metallic particles in powders and deodorants could be visible on your mammogram and cause confusion
  • Consider an over-the-counter pain medication (if you find that having a mammogram is uncomfortable) about an hour before your mammogram. This might ease the discomfort of the test.

If the radiologist notes areas of concern on your mammogram, further testing may include additional mammograms known as compression or magnification views, as well as ultrasound imaging or a procedure (biopsy) to re-move a sample of breast tissue for laboratory testing. Some situations require the use of diagnostic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in areas where the current imaging with mammography or ultrasound is negative and it’s not clear what’s causing a breast change or abnormality.