Mammography: Learn all about the exam that helps detect breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women worldwide, according to the National Cancer Institute (INCA). In order to prevent this disease or detect it early and thus increase the chances of successful treatment and cure, it is important to regularly perform, in addition to breast self-examination, mammography.

If you’ve never done this procedure, are unsure, have questions about the preparations or how it’s performed, you’ve come to the right place! Care for Life interviewed breast specialist Gusttavo Zucca-Mathes, who clarified everything you need to know about mammography. Check it out!

What is mammography? What is this exam for?

Mammography is an examination, very similar to an X-ray, in which the patient’s breast is pressed between two plates to detect images of the inside of the breasts. “It makes it possible to detect all types of lesions, even the most millimeter ones, and this will help in the early detection of the breast cancer. The sooner it is diagnosed, the greater the chances of cure and with a small probability of mutilation”, noted the doctor.

When should a mammogram be done?

Mammography should be done from the age of 40with an annual frequency or every two years, as the breast specialist explains: “In some situations, when suspicious lesions are detected, we ask the patient to repeat the mammogram every three or six months, depending on the type of alteration found”.

Mammography can also be done before the age of 40, but in this age group, Dr. Gustavo says that there is a peculiarity: “Since this patient’s breast will be young, it will be more difficult to obtain good images, since the ray cannot pass through the dense tissue in the region. Therefore, we recommend that it be done after forty” – the age when the skin begins to naturally thin.

Prepare for a mammogram: learn how the exam is done

There is no special preparation for having a mammogram. Just go to the clinic or hospital preferably and perform the exam, which is usually done very simply and quickly. “The patient’s breast is placed between two plates and images are taken from two views (oblique mediolateral and craniocaudal) of both breasts”. If the patient has a silicone implant, there are specialized maneuvers that must be performed so that the prosthesis does not interfere with the result.

Mammography hurts: myth or truth?

The main fear among women when having a mammogram is whether the procedure will cause any kind of pain. O mastologist answers this question bluntly: “I would say that it is an exam that causes discomfort due to compression. If the woman is on a day when her breasts are more sensitive, she may indeed feel pain”. But this should not be seen as a reason not to have a mammogram. “It’s a discomfort on a single day of the year that could mean her life,” said Dr. Gustavo.


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