Mammography is the x-ray examination of the breasts. It is the most important screening tool for detecting breast cancer. Because it can detect the disease early in its course, it can lower its associated mortality. During the examination procedure, the breast is compressed so as to spread out the breast tissue. The radiologist looks for abnormalities on the X-ray or mammogram that can reveal a potentially cancerous lesion.
When it comes to screening, it is important to know that a positive result does not necessarily mean that you have breast cancer. In fact, only about one in ten women who has a positive mammography will have a cancer tumour. If you get a positive test, your attending physician will tell you what you need to do next.
Preparation for your exam
- Make an appointment within the ten days following the beginning of your menstrual cycle, or when your breasts are less sensitive.
- Avoid coffee, tea, chocolate, wine and cola a few days before the exam, and drink plenty of water to reduce breast sensitivity.
- Refrain from using skin care powders, creams, perfumes or deodorants on the day of the examination.
- Before the exam, remove all jewelry that may interfere with the exam.
- If you have had a mammography taken in the last five years, bring the images and medical reports with you on the day of the exam. This is mandatory for comparison purposes.
- Lastly, as is the case with all radiographic exams, if you are pregnant you should tell your doctor and the technologist who will perform the exam.