Dr.K.Shantha Breast Cancer Foundation, Trichy (SBCF)

About Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Screening - Mammography Screening

Mammography screening is a low-dose x-ray examination of the breast that can pick up very small breast cancers. During mammography screening, the breast is gently flattened between two plates of the X-ray machine for a few seconds, to spread the tissue apart and get a good image of the breast. Images of the breast are taken and developed by a radiographer (a technician) who then hands the X-ray films to a radiologist (a doctor) to check for abnormalities.

It is recommended that women aged 40 - 49 should go for mammography screening once a year, and women above 50 should go for one once in 2 years.



Frequently Asked Questions About Mammography

Why should one go for a mammography?

Mammography is currently the most reliable way to detect breast cancer. It can detect lumps even before they are felt by the hand. Such early detection can greatly increase chances of recovery as well as provide more treatment options.

Will there be pain when one is doing the mammography?

During the procedure, the breast is compressed for a few seconds to spread the tissue apart and get a good image of the breast. Some women may find this uncomfortable or painful, but this is temporary and will last only a few seconds.

Is mammography screening safe?

Yes, mammography screening is safe. Only a very low dose of radiation is used during mammography screening, and the chance of it saving your life, by detecting breast cancer, is much greater than that of it harming you. In addition, the compression of your breast for a few seconds, to ensure that a clear image is obtained, will not harm your breast in any way.

How accurate is mammography?

Mammography is currently the best way to detect early breast cancer as it can detect lumps that are too small to be felt. However, a small percentage (10%) of cancers do not show up on a mammogram; this could be due to the cancer being:

  1. Located in a part of the breast that is difficult to screen via mammography
  2. Hidden by normal breast tissue 
  3. Not so visible as it may be growing in a manner that does not alter the surrounding normal breast tissue.

In addition to mammography, it is important that you do a breast self examination once every month and go to a doctor for a clinical breast examination once a year. Doing all these three types of breast checks can help you to detect any changes in the breast.

Will mammography screening tell if a lump is cancerous or not?

While mammography is useful in detecting lumps, it cannot say for sure if a lump is cancer. Tissue must be removed for examination to tell if it is cancer. This can be done with needle biopsy or open surgical biopsy.

When is the best time to go for mammography?

If you have sensitive breasts, go for mammography at a time of the month when your breasts will be least tender. Try to avoid the week right before your period. This will help to lessen discomfort.

Can all women go for mammography screening?

Mammography is usually not recommended for younger women (below 40) whose breasts tend to be more dense, making it difficult for small changes to be detected. Instead, an ultrasound, which uses high-frequency sound waves, is recommended. During an ultrasound, a gel is put on the breast and a small transducer or microphone is moved over the skin.

How do I prepare for mammography?
  1. Do not wear any deodorant, perfume, powder or cream, under your arms or chest area as it may interfere with the quality of the mammogram. Also avoid wearing any jewellery.
  2. Wear a comfortable two-piece outfit.
  3. There is no need to restrict your food or fluid intake.
Where can I go for mammography screening?

Subsidised mammography screening is available to Indian women or Permanent Residents aged 40 and above with no known symptoms such as breast lumps or nipple discharge and who have not had a mammogram in the last 12 months at the following:

  1. On the SBCF Mammobus. Call SBCF at 0431 - 2701153, 2708765 for details.
  2. Through BreastScreen India, run by the Health Promotion Board in conjunction with several polyclinics.
SBCF Trichy