What is mammography

Many women, especially if it is the first time, are frightened by this very important preventive examination. The reason is the fear of the pain caused by breast squeezing during the exam, but is it really that painful?

This article was written in collaboration with our staff of doctors and specialists

When it comes to mammography, people often complain about pain during the test Even on social networks, in groups dedicated to women in menopause, the complaint is frequent. The result, however, is to remove the idea of doing this very important preventive examination because some women allow themselves to be conditioned by fear.

Mammography is one of the most important tests to do even in menopause .

Mammography does not hurt and is not painful!

The truth is , mammograms are not usually a painful exam . It could be a bit annoying – yes – especially in the presence of dense breasts, but the pressure that the machine places on the breast to be able to squeeze it and therefore carry out the X-ray scan of the internal tissue is absolutely bearable by all women without problems. So don’t worry: we are facing an exam that can save lives. Just take a deep breath, relax and it all lasts a few minutes.

To understand what the discomfort of a mammogram can be, you can compress the breast with your hands, palm against palm, exerting a minimum of pressure. If you feel a little discomfort, try pressing harder. This is the maximum pain you will experience.

In addition to complaints about the alleged pain the exam would cause, many women fear that the radiation absorbed during the exam could hurt in the long run . To be calm, we asked the gynecologist who clarified that mammography uses ionizing radiation but at such a low dose that it can be considered negligible, also considering that mammography is performed once every 1-2 years. The risk / benefit ratio is enormously in favor of the latter. A dose of radiation analogous to mammography is absorbed by doing an intercontinental flight or by spending a vacation on a volcanic island.

What is mammography

Mammography  is a radiological test and is today one of the most reliable methods for tracing a  tumor  before it is detected on simple palpation, that is, when its size is less than 1 cm. The examination allows to detect even much smaller lesions, especially after menopause when the density of the breast tissue is reduced making the examination even more effective.

To overcome these dimensions, in fact, a lesion takes on average from 5 to 10 years and it is very important to be able to identify it earlier, considering that statistically,  carcinomas of such small dimensions result in healing in 90% of patients. Hence the importance of early diagnosis which is confirmed as fundamental even for surgical treatments or not, but of a conservative type (without resorting to mastectomy).

When to do a mammogram after menopause?

In perimenopause, so let’s say briefly between 42 and 52 years (even if every woman is a specific case), mammography should be done once every 12-18 months, after consulting with your gynecologist . Once in full menopause, mammography can also be repeated at less frequent intervals, every 18-24 months, always asking the advice of the gynecologist.

If in doubt, ask your gynecologist

A frank and sincere dialogue with your gynecologist is the starting point for resolving your doubts. If the specialist deems it appropriate, you can make an appointment with a center near your home. The gynecologist will be able to describe the exam in all respects and also eliminate any residual fear of the exam, if there was a need.

Mammography is usually associated with a tomography and general breast examination.


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