The risks and other factors to consider about a mammogram
The risks of a mammogram
Mammograms emit radiation: However, the dose of radiation is low and often the benefits of the procedure outweigh your risk of exposure to radiation.
Other factors to consider
While exceptionally helpful in breast examination and the early detection of breast cancer and other possible issues, mammograms do have some limitations:
- Mammograms can be inaccurate: The accuracy is dependent on the exact technique used and the radiologist skills. Factors for example breast density and age may also result in a false-positive or false-negative mammogram. Younger women are known to have more ligaments and glands in their breasts, this results in breast tissue being dense, which can disguise the cancer signs. As women age their breast tissue becomes more fatty with fewer glands, allowing mammograms to be interpreted easier.
- Additional testing may be recommended after a mammogram: Only about 10% of women need additional testing due to abnormal findings. If the mammogram is seen to be abnormal, the radiologist will often look at previous mammograms in comparison to see if the change is serious.
- Not all cancers can be detected through a screening mammography: In some cases, cancers that have been detected through a physical examination, such as a lump, are unable to be seen in a mammogram. This is normally due to the cancer being in a place that is hard to be viewed by the mammography, like under the arm. Mammograms are able to miss one in five cancers.
- Some tumours discovered by mammography cannot be cured: Aggressive types of cancer that spread more rapidly are able to spread to other different of the body.
Depending on your results, your doctor will explain your report to you and recommend the next steps if any abnormalities were detected.