A malignant tumor
of the breast
pictured in this
This closeup view
of the tumor
shows a small
image which is
B.B. that marks
where the lump
Mammography is the most effective means
of detecting breast cancer at its earliest, most treatable stage. Having
a mammogram may be the key to the successful treatment and cure of breast
cancer, which claims more than 45,000 lives each year.
A mammogram is an x-ray picture that visualizes
the internal structure of the breast. There are two types of mammograms:
diagnostic and screening mammograms. A screening mammogram is used in the
general population. It can find breast cancer that is too small for you,
your doctor, or nurse to feel. A standard screening mammogram actually
consists of 4 x-rays: a top view and a side view of each breast. Each is
made using a special, low-radiation machine that is designed just for mammograms.
The x-rays are examined by a radiologist who is trained to look for abnormalities
in the breast tissue.
The American College of Radiology, the
American Cancer Society, and nearly a dozen other health care organizations
have endorsed a set of guidelines for mammography screening. The present
guidelines say that beginning by age 40 women without symptoms should have
a mammogram every one to two years and a clinical breast exam every year.
Beginning at age 50, women without symptoms should have a mammogram and
a clinical breast exam yearly.
Diagnostic mammography is used to get a
clearer picture of abnormalities that may have already been identified,
or define any other problems with the breast.