Everything You Need To Know About Mammograms

Dec 15, 2022
Everything You Need To Know About Mammograms
Hello, Warriors! Welcome to The Breast Place blog and thank you for taking time out of your active schedule to visit! We appreciate our readers to the utmost degree, as we do our patients.

Hello, Warriors! Welcome to The Breast Place blog and thank you for taking time out of your active schedule to visit! We appreciate our readers to the utmost degree, as we do our patients. If this is your first visit to The Breast Place blog, we welcome you. We cover a range of topics here. From breast cancer management to anti-aging skin treatments to helpful tips for maximizing your overall health and wellness—The Breast Place is committed to sharing the best health practices and treatment options with you! Our offices are open and our staff is prepared to answer any questions you may have about your health, your breast cancer risk, and how to reach your aesthetic goals. 

At The Breast Place, we offer several oncoplastic surgical procedures, such as natural reconstruction, nipple-sparing mastectomy, Hidden Scar™, implant reconstruction, and breast lift with or without reduction. Oncoplastic surgery is distinct from both breast cancer surgery and plastic surgery–though you initially assume oncoplastic surgery to be a mixture of both. Rather, the aim of oncoplastic breast surgery is “to achieve good aesthetic outcomes for women with breast cancers who would have unacceptable outcomes with other BCS techniques, and in addition, enable breast-conserving surgery for larger breast cancers.” While breast cancer surgery prioritizes the eradication of cancerous tissue and plastic surgery prioritizes the cosmetic appearance of the breasts, oncoplastic surgery takes both of these aspects into account when planning for the final outcome. You can find out more information about what to look for in an Oncoplastic surgeon here. 

In our last blog, we discussed a possible link between vitamin D deficiency and breast cancer. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a role in the nervous system, immune system, and musculoskeletal system. Research has suggested that women with low levels of vitamin D may have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. We took a closer look at this research and discussed steps you can take to keep your vitamin D levels in check. If you are interested in learning more, we encourage you to check out our last post!

Before we continue with today’s topic, we’d like to make you aware of what we have to offer at The Breast Place this month. It’s already December, which means you are probably shopping for loved ones, or treating yourself! This month, we are offering new specials every week! For the first week of the month, you can enjoy 10% off Active Peel by iS Clinical, a treatment that resurfaces and polishes the skin. During the second week of December, we’re offering 10% off EltaMD skin care products! The third week, score 10% off HydraCool Serum, which hydrates and soothes the skin. And finally, throughout the last week of December, we’re offering 10% off Extreme Protect sunscreen from iS Clinical! Don’t miss out on these deals. These products will make great holiday gifts for yourself or a loved one!

Today, we’ll be talking about mammograms! A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast used to look for early signs of breast cancer. In fact, having regular mammograms is one of the best ways to be proactive about breast cancer detection. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the history of the mammogram, what a mammogram consists of, as well as when you should get a mammogram. If you are interested in learning more about mammograms, you’re in the right place! Let’s get started.

First, let’s take a quick look at the history of the mammogram. In 1913, a German surgeon named Albert Salomon became the first surgeon to study x-rays of breast tissue. He performed a study on 3,000 mastectomies, which is the term for the surgical removal of one or both breasts. He compared the x-rays to the actual removed tissue and was able to discover the difference between cancerous and non-cancerous tumors in the breast as seen on x-rays. Salomon also discovered that there are multiple types of breast cancer. Despite his studies being published, mammography did not become a practice until years later. It wasn’t until the 1960s when Philip Strax, an American radiologist, initiated the first randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the use of mammography as a screening tool. This study outlined key treatment and mortality impacts of implementing mammograms. 

What is a mammogram?

But what does a mammogram actually consist of? A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray, meaning it gives off very little radiation. Mammograms are performed using a machine that is designed to look at breast tissue. When you go to receive a mammogram, you will stand in front of the x-ray machine, and a medical professional will place your breast on a plastic plate. Another plate will firmly press down on your breast from above, flattening the breast as the x-ray is being taken. The steps will then be repeated to get a side view of the breast, and repeated again on the other breast. 

Mammograms are used to examine the breast for diagnosis and screening. A screening mammogram is used to look for signs and symptoms of breast cancer in women who do not have any symptoms or issues. A diagnostic mammogram examines the breast when a woman has symptoms or if something unusual was spotted on a screening mammogram. Mammograms have been shown to reduce the risk of dying from cancer, as they can sometimes detect cancer before any symptoms are present.

Currently, there are two types of mammograms: The standard (2D) mammogram, and the three-dimensional (3D) mammogram, which is the newest technology. Also known as tomography, a 3D mammogram takes many low-dose x-rays as it moves in a small arc around the breast. This allows doctors to see the breast tissue more clearly. 

What can be seen on a mammogram?

Once the images from your mammogram are complete, a medical professional will check them for any abnormalities. Although a mammogram can not definitively show whether or not an abnormality is cancerous, the imaging can help your doctor determine the next steps, such as whether more testing is needed. Some of the types of breast changes that a mammogram can identify are:

  • Calcifications: These are tiny calcium deposits within the breast tissue that look like tiny white spots on a mammogram.
  • Masses: A mass is an area of abnormal breast tissue with a shape and edges that make it look different than the rest of the breast tissue. They can be cysts or solid masses.
  • Asymmetries: These show up as white areas on a mammogram that look different from regular breast tissue.
  • Distortions: A distortion describes an area of breast tissue that appears distorted or pulled towards a certain point.

Who should get a mammogram?

As mentioned above, sometimes a mammogram or other diagnostic imaging will be recommended if a woman has symptoms or issues concerning her breasts. Screening mammograms, however, are used to detect cancer before symptoms begin. The American Cancer Society recommends that women aged 45 to 54 should get mammograms once per year. Some organizations, such as the Mayo Clinic, recommend screening beginning at age 40. However, depending on your family history, genetics, or certain other factors, your medical provider may recommend mammograms at an earlier age. If you are concerned about your breast cancer risk, we encourage you to speak with your healthcare provider. 

Here at The Breast Place, we work with most facilities in the area to order, schedule, and follow up on mammograms for our patients. There are different types of breast imaging, such as ultrasounds and MRIs, so if you are unsure which one is right for you, feel free to reach out to us to schedule a consultation. One of our licensed providers will perform a clinical breast exam and review your medical history to determine which type of breast imaging is appropriate for you. 

We hope you found this article informative, and we encourage you to reach out if you have any further questions or concerns. Here at The Breast Place, we are dedicated to providing services and education surrounding breast health. We offer breast imaging services and provide consultations, clinical breast exams, and dedicated treatment plans. We also encourage you to check out our aesthetics and wellness clinic, Empower, which is dedicated to helping you feel more confident in your skin. Empower offers injectable treatments such as Botox, Juvéderm, and Dysport, as well as other facial rejuvenation services such as laser treatment and more! Additionally, we strongly encourage you to reach out to us for a consultation if you have any questions or concerns pertaining to our service areas– We are committed to empowering women, and we are proud to offer treatments and products to help you look and feel your best. Thank you for taking the time to read today’s article and we hope you’ll check back in for future posts about treatments, wellness, and more!