All You Need to Know About a Mammography Scan

A mammography scan, also known as a mammogram, is a specialized x-ray imaging of the breast that is used to detect and diagnose breast cancer and other breast abnormalities. Images are created of the inside of the breasts by exposing the breast tissue to a small number of ionizing radiations. There are currently three types of mammography screenings: digital mammography, breast tomosynthesis and computer-aided detection.

Digital Mammography:
In this type of mammography, with the use of electronics, mammographic pictures of the breasts are obtained. This process works like a camera and clear pictures are captured with exposure to low radiation. They can then be transferred into a computer for the examination by radiologists and can be retained for long term usage.

Computer-Aided Detection:
This type focuses on any unusual and irregular changes in the breasts. They produce images that highlight risky, abnormal areas of density, or masses which can give indication of cancer. The radiologists can then focus on these areas and assess the seriousness of the disease.

Breast Tomosynthesis:
This type is an advanced version of the digital mammography that produces a three-dimensional result. A large number of images are captured from various angles and gathered to make a three-dimensional image of the infected breast.
It is extremely important that all women aged 40 or older have a yearly mammography scan, as it plays a crucial role in the early detection and diagnosis of breast cancer and other breast diseases. Any unusual alterations in the breast can be identified a year before the person can feel them.

Breast cancer can be detected by the use of mammography scans at an early stage when the chances of curing them are the highest.

How to give yourself a routine breast cancer check

It is recommended that all women aged 20 and over begin conducting monthly breast self-exams to identify and keep track of any changes in their breasts.

Establishing a regular self-exam schedule allows women to detect abnormalities including lumps, changes in skin texture, or discharge. Self-examination is important in order to detect and diagnose breast cancer at an early stage when it is the most curable.

Follow these steps to check yourself for breast cancer:

1. Stand undressed in front of a full-length miror. If your breasts are not of the same size, you don’t need to worry as this is common in many women. Check for any lumps, dimpling of the skin, or changes in the size and shape of the breasts. Check for any changes in your nipples.

2. Observe the outer parts of your breast after tightening your muscles below the breasts. You can do so by putting your hands on your hips and pressing down firmly.

3. Next, bend towards the mirror and further tighten your muscles by rolling your shoulders and elbows forward. Observe any changes to the breasts shape. Place your hands on the back of your head and press them forward. Then observe the shape.

4. Check for any fluid discharge through your nipples. You can do so by using your thumb and forefinger.

When in the shower:

  • Apply some soap and water on your hands and feel for any changes in your breasts.
  • Look for any thick or lumpy areas.
  • Check for lumps both above and below the collarbone.

When lying down: 

  • Lie down with a pillow underneath your right shoulder.
  • Place your left hand on the right breast and your right hand behind your head.
  • Then start moving your hand in a circular pattern around your breast to identify any thick areas or anything unusual.
  • Put your fingers on the nipples and press them inwards, they should move easily.

If you do find a lump or notice a new change in your breast tissue, you do not need to panic. Changes in the breasts do not always signal cancer; they may be the result of many other conditions. If you are still concerned, feel free to give Little Silver Mammography & HerSpace a call (732-741-9595) to discuss any questions that you may have and to schedule an appointment.