A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast used to check breast cancer in both men and women in order to detect tumors that cannot be felt and identify breast cancer at a very early stage.
According to Doreen Akwanyi, a radiologist in Moi teaching and referral hospital, most people do not understand the difference between a screening mammogram and a diagnostic mammogram.
“Screening Mammogram helps in checking breast cancer to whoever has no signs of the disease, which includes 2 or more x-ray images of each breast”, explains Doreen
She adds that a diagnostic mammogram helps in checking breast cancer after a lump or other symptoms have been seen, for instance if a patient has come with signs of thickening of the skin of the breast, nipple discharge among others. continues Doreen.
“Diagnostic mammogram can also be used to ascertain the results found during screening, especially when breast implants are involved”, says Doreen.
In both screening and diagnostic mammograms, the same machines are used, but the difference is the radiation.
“The total dose of radiation in diagnostic mammography is higher as compared to that of screening because the X-ray images are needed to obtain different cleavage views, in order for a doctor to produce accurate diagnosis”, explains Doreen.
Sally Onyancha, a 40 years old lady, and a mother of two teenagers is among those women who have experienced mammography, this being the 2nd time after 3years from the 1st mammography.
“We have a family history of breast cancer. My mum and her sister, had breast cancer, of which our grandmother also had”, narrates Sally.
“So when I heard about diagnostic mammography, I decided to try, in order to trace cancer before it is late. So I did my first mammography in 2017 at the age of 36”, continues Sally.
“It was scary at first but after a series of counseling, I agreed to do it, of which the result became negative”, sighs Sally.
“I have been given an appointment again in 2022 because the resent test also came out negative. It is a matter of having the courage and facing the reality of life,” continues Sally.
According to Doreen, any woman who has a breast transplant should let a radiologist know about it when scheduling for mammography. She highlights the importance of mammography, which includes;
- A mammogram can save lives-Finding breast cancer at an early stage increases the chances of treatment
- Mammograms help in showing changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or physician can feel them.
- It prevents the need for extensive treatment for advanced breast cancer and improves the chances of breast conservation.
We are the custodians of our bodies. We must take action to employ healthy lifestyle habits to prevent, reduce, and/or manage disease and illness
She says women at the age of 35 and above are advised to go for mammogram because they are at risk of having breast cancer.
Women with a family history are also advised to visit radiologists in order to clear day to day doubts.
According to Doreen, there is a way in which mammography is done.
A radiologist will position the patient’s breast in a mammography unit and will be compressed with a clear plastic paddle, of which it will be compressed gradually.
Breast compression is important because it helps in the visualizing of all tissues. It also helps to reduce X-ray scatter to increase the clearness of the image.