Mammography is the study of the breasts using X-ray. The actual test is called a mammogram.
There has been some controversy on when a patient should have their first screening mammogram and how often to have further testing. We feel routine screening should begin at age 40 and then should be done on a yearly basis. If there is a strong family history of breast cancer prior to menopause, screening should begin at age 35.
New technology allows for mammograms to be done digitally and with minimal radiation exposure. Cancers can be diagnosed when the tumors are extremely small and prior to when they can be palpated by your physician or be found on self-breast examination.
The reason all women should have this important test is the fact that one in nine women will develop breast cancer. Early detection saves lives because abnormal tissue can be removed before it has a chance to spread. Early detection also allows surgery which can preserve the natural breast.
Occasionally the mammogram shows extremely dense breast tissue. When this happens, additional tests may be recommended. Additional testing could include extra mammogram views, ultrasonography, and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).
Not all breast cancers show up on a mammogram. Therefore it is also important to have a yearly breast examination by your physician and perform monthly self-breast examination.