Why Mammography?

Let’s first understand a bit about breast cancer. Breast cancer starts when cells inside the breast start growing out of control. Breast cancer cells usually form a tumour which can be seen with a medical image called Mammogram in very early stages. When tumour grows big enough, it can be felt as a lump with hands too. However, most breast lumps are not cancerous. They are called benign lumps that do not spread outside the breasts to other organs. What is very important is to screen regularly, even when you feel absolutely healthy.

Why should I regularly screen for Breast Cancer?

No woman is safe from breast cancer. No one can prevent it. But if detected early, breast cancer is completely curable in most. Screening will help you find early signs of breast cancer (if any) before any symptoms. By the time symptoms appear or when you can feel the lump with your hand, the disease is often at an advanced stage – needing painful interventions and your survival chances are compromised.

Although science says screening is lifesaving, your mind might still play tricks with you by giving excuses such as the ones below. Don’t let any of them distract you:

Excuse 1: “I feel healthy. Why screen?”

Excuse 2: “I do self-examination. I don’t feel lump or see other symptoms. Why screen?”

Excuse 3: “I am very busy. No time”

Excuse 4: “I have no family history. I may not get breast cancer”

Excuse 5: “I eat healthy and I exercise. Why screen?”

Excuse 6: “I don’t want bad news”

Excuse 7: “Screening will expose me to radiation”

Mental stress to the loved ones and a regret that one could have screened regularly after late diagnosis, are not worth compared to the small inconvenience and self-discipline of screening yourself once a year with mammography if you are above 40 years of age.

How does early detection of Breast Cancer help?

If breast cancer is found early, there are more treatment options and better chances of cure and survival. Women whose breast cancer is detected at an early stage have a 93 percent or higher survival rate in the first five years1.

Although the risk of breast cancer increases with age, a publication reports that 52% of all women suffering from breast cancer are in the 40-49 years age bracket and a significant number of patients are below 40 years of age2.

Hence for women leading urban lifestyles, the general recommendation is to start annual mammography after the age of 40 for average risk women. Whereas if there is a family history of breast or cervical cancers, it is better to start regular screening after 30 years of age. Younger women generally have dense breast tissue compared to older women and hence 3D mammography becomes even more important to ask for.



Why Mammography? Why not the other imaging techniques like self-breast-exams, ultrasound, and MRI?

Dr. Bagyam Raghavan: Is self-breast-exam alone enough for early detection of breast cancer?

There are four breast screening modalities, i.e., self-breast-examination, breast ultrasound, MRI, and mammography. For in-depth comparison, you may visit our popular blog here:

Most medical organizations do not recommend self-breast-examination1 because it does not help early detection. By the time the lump is big enough to be felt by your or your doctor’s hands, its already too big, and too late in most cases.

Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, says the highly reputed government agency for disease prevention and control in USA, the CDC2.  This view applies worldwide including in India and Asia.

Ultrasound may be used in combination with Mammogram from case-to-case basis as determined by a specialist.

MRIs, although much more expensive than Mammograms, do not mean higher quality. Breast MRIs may appear abnormal even when there is no cancer, and hence are not used for women at average risk according to the CDC. Secondly, when an MRI appears abnormal, you may have to undergo an unnecessary biopsy and the mental stress related to false detection.

Visit our popular blog Why mammography is preferred to learn more.

1 https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/breast-exam/about/pac-20393237


Types of Mammography (2D and 3D)

Any woman who needs breast screening should consider 3D mammography says MD Anderson Cancer Center1– one of the World’s most reputed cancer hospitals, based on the substantial clinical evidence available. Many other studies too support 3D mammography. Please do read our blog Why 3D Mammography Protects Better Against Breast Cancer, for more details.

MD Anderson goes further to say that Women with dense breast tissue in particular may benefit because 3D Mammography provides a clearer image.

How 3D Mammography Improves Breast Cancer Screening?

Why Doctors Prefer 3D Mammography Over 2D

Using 3D mammography makes it easier for doctors to catch breast cancer early. It also helps us catch more cancers. And it helps Doctors see the cancer size much better than they could on a 2D or analog mammogram. It reduces the chances of doctors seeing a false positive.


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© All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a product solicitation or promotion where such activities are prohibited. The content does not represent the position
of Hologic Inc.

Privacy | Terms & Conditions