All You Need To Know About Mammograms
Written by Mr Vummiti Krishnan, Consultant Breast Surgeon at Pall Mall Cosmetics.
A mammogram is the best diagnostic test you can use to detect early signs of Breast Cancer. At an early stage, Breast Cancer does not cause any pain and may have no visible or obvious symptoms. Early detection can make a significant difference in how effective cancer treatment can be too. Regular screening with a Mammogram is proven to increase a woman’s chance of detecting of breast cancer and is considered as the first line of defence.
If you are considering a mammogram, here is all you need to know from our Breast Surgeon, Mr Krishnan:
1.) Start screening when you reach 35 years old.
The symptoms of breast cancer are not always visible.
Yes, mammography should be a part of woman’s general health screening starting at least at age 35. Why 35? Because before 35, breast tissues tend to be denser, making mammography less effective as a screening tool.
In addition, the risk of radiation outweighs the likelihood of detecting breast cancer when you are younger. The two-dimensional X-ray of the breast is highly effective in detecting cancer long before a lump may be felt during your daily lifestyle.
Women who are a carrier of the genetic mutation (such as BRCA1 or BRCA2) need to be more alert. Most women who have a mother, sister or grandmother who had breast or ovarian cancer at a young age are advised to speak with a Breast Consultant before a mammogram.
2.) How much radiation is too much?
We are exposed to radiation in more ways than we realise! From when we fly to when we get medical treatments and even when we leave the house. Too much radiation can have drastic effects and cause cancer. But people fail to ask and understand – how much is too much?
A mammogram controls of the amount of radiation exposure that is harmful to a patient. Hence, the exposure during a mammogram is only a very small amount. On average, the total dose of radiation for a mammogram of each breast is about 0.4 mSv (Millisievert-mSv is a unit of radiation dose) and hence the test is relatively safe.
To help you know how small that is, we receive up to 3 mSv of exposure per year just from natural background radiation of going about our normal daily lives.
• Exposure greater than 3mSv to 20 mSv is considered moderate.
• Greater than 20 mSv is considered HIGH.
The radiation during a mammogram is regulated by the mammographer conducting the screening and contains such a low-dose of x-ray, it is considered as negligible.
Pall Mall owns our very own state-of-the-art Hologic Selenia® Dimensions® 3D Digital Mammography machine, which emits less radiation per examination than other mammography machines. A great reason to choose Pall Mall for your Mammogram.
One less thing to worry about.
3.) Suspicious or abnormal mammograms
After a routine mammogram screen, if you are told that an abnormality was found and you need to visit for further testing, don’t worry.
An abnormal mammogram does not necessarily mean you have breast CANCER. It could be a liquid cyst or just a solid lump. Cysts are fluid-filled masses in the breast that may feel like a lump but on examination, it is just a small harmless sac filled with fluid. Cysts and tumours can feel the same and even look the same on a mammogram. To be sure that the mass is a normal cyst, either an ultrasound scan or a biopsy (taking a small sample for testing) is often recommended. A Breast Consultant can guide you through this pathway without you needing to assume the worst.
Mammograms may also produce false negative reports. As at times, cancer is hidden by other dense tissues in the breast and cannot always be seen. Lobular cancer also has a growth pattern that produces shadows on a mammogram and gets merged with normal breast tissues and effects the reading efficiency. Another reason why regular screening is essential.
4.) Go clear for an error free Mammogram.
Using deodorants, powder, lotions and creams either on your underarm or over/around the breasts may lead to incorrect readings on the mammogram. This is because the metallic particles present in these products may be visible, causing distraction on the actual images. Therefore, it is advisable not to wear these products for a more accurate breast screening and diagnosis.
5.) Is there any discomfort?
Most women feel some discomfort during a mammogram. The pressure of the testing equipment against the breasts may cause slight pain, which is normal. This part lasts only for few minutes. Occasionally, some women can feel more pain during the test. The intensity of pain differs for everyone depending on:
• Breast Size: yes, breast size matters with levels of pain and also affects the mammogram too. If a woman has dense breast tissue, it can be very hard to get a successful mammogram and this may mean a little more pain.
• Your Menstrual Cycle: tenderness in the breasts varies before and after your menstrual cycle. A week before your periods, the breasts will be most tender and may cause more pain during a mammogram. So scheduling your test during the week after your period is more favourable to avoid the chance of a more painful scan.
At Pall Mall Cosmetics, you can book a private Mammogram screening at our medical & diagnostic centre in Newton-le-Willows. The price of a scan is £320 and this includes a full report that is normally available within 7 days of your scan.
If you have any breast concerns, we can also offer a consultation where you can speak to a private breast surgeon with the expertise to offer the best advice, give assurances and calm nerves.
* You can read more about our Mammogram screenings by clicking here.
Meet Our Experienced Breast Surgeon Mr Vummiti Krishnan
Mr Krishnan is one of our expert Breast Surgeons here at Pall Mall Cosmetics. With his experience in the NHS as a Consultant Oncoplastic & Reconstructive Breast Surgeon, you can be assured of his expertise with Breast Augmentation, reduction or uplift.
To get a free of charge, no obligation consultation for cosmetic and reconstructive breast surgery with Mr Krishnan, simply call Helen & Sara in our cosmetic team on 03300 58 44 55 or email email@example.com.
Or view Mr Vummiti Krishnan’s surgical profile – click here.