I am having my first mammogram, what should I expect?
The radiographer will compress your breast between two flat surfaces. X Ray images of your breast are then taken at different angles for a few seconds. There may be slight discomfort during compression. One breast is done at a time, allowing two different xray views for each breast.
Sometimes, more images need to be taken for better evaluation. The report is written by a radiologist.
The radiation dose is low and acceptable. The dose is approximately 0.6-0.7 millisieverts (mSv), which is equivalent to one-eighth of the radiation absorbed annually from natural background radiation, or the radiation exposure from two to four round-trip flights between Hong Kong and London. As an internationally recognized tool for detecting breast cancer, the mammogram can detect abnormalities which cannot be seen by the eye or felt by the hand. The benefits of saving a life by early detection are much greater than the risks of radiation.
Can ultrasound imaging substitute mammography screening?
The principles and functions of the two imaging methods are different. They cannot replace each other but are complementary. Ultrasound imaging transmits high-frequency sound waves to the breast tissues through an apparatus, and then converts the feedback from the sound waves into an image. Ultrasound can distinguish between solid nodules and cystic lesions. Mammography can detect calcifications and architectural distortions better.
If microcalcifications or a lump is found inside the breast on a mammogram or in ultrasound screening, what should I do?
If a lump is found inside the breast through the mammogram or ultrasound screening, the doctor may suggest you to extract samples of tissue from the lump for further investigation. This can be done by fine needle aspiration or core biopsy.
3D Tomosynthesis mammography requires less force to compress the breast which can reduce the pain. Moreover, the new technology can complete dozens of images in just 3-4 seconds. Most women find the compression force acceptable. Women are also advised to schedule their scans 1-2 weeks after menses when the breasts are less engorged.