What is the exam?
A mammogram is an examination of the breasts used in the prevention of breast cancer. It is also a diagnostic method. The mammogram is obtained using a mammography machine, which emits low doses of X-rays. The purpose of this exam is to detect breast neoplasia in the early stages when it is still not palpable by the examining physician or during self-examinations performed by the patient.
How is it done?
The patient is positioned in the mammography machine and the breast is compressed so that breast remains immobile and is exposed to X-rays and breast tissue is uniform. This generates an image that shows all the breast tissue and armpit. Compression of the breast may cause slight discomfort, but the exam is quick and the benefits of the examination are extremely significant.
- The patient must report whether any pain caused by the compression of the breast is felt.
- During exposure, the patient must remain still and hold his/her breath. This will avoid possible distortions of the image.
- Appointments should ideally be booked after the patient’s menstrual period has ended (during the premenstrual phase the exam may be painful).
- It is important to bring previous mammograms.
- Pregnant women must not undergo this exam.