Breast cancer screening is encouraged in women who are 40 years or older. Mammography (breast x-ray) to screen for breast cancer is the most effective for early detection and cure, hence reducing death rates from the disease. This may be combined with other tests (such as breast ultrasound) to increase detection rates.
What is a mammogram?A mammogram is a special x-ray technique used to look for breast cancer in women. Each breast is gently compressed; 2 different x-ray views are then taken for evaluation.
Although the human breast consists predominantly of soft tissue and does not image well on x-rays, cancer tissue tends to accumulate calcium and harden – producing contrast areas of tiny white specks on the mammogram.
It is these areas of “microcalcifications” – against a background of soft tissue shadows – that a Radiologist will look out for to determine if the mammogram is normal.
Who should go for breast mammogram screening?You should go for regularly mammograms if you are over 40 years old since breast cancer is higher among older women. Regular mammography helps detect breast cancer early when the chance of a cure is the highest.
How frequently should I go for breast mammogram screening?The Health Promotion Board recommends the following guidelines for regular mammogram screening:
- Between 40 to 49 years old = once every year
- Above 50 years old = once every two years
How should I prepare for my mammogram screening?
- Wear a loose, comfortable, two-piece outfit since you would have to undress from the waist up
- You should not wear any jewellery with you when you go for your appointment
- Do not apply any powder, deodorant, perfume, powder or cream on your breasts or armpits when you go for the mammogram
Can I go for mammogram screening if I am pregnant?No. You should inform the radiographer if you suspect that you are pregnant or miss you menses.
Do I need a doctor’s referral to go for mammogram?No. You can book a mammogram appointment at MHC Medical Centre by calling (65) 6-22-55-220 or go to www.mhchealthcare.com to make an appointment.
What happens on the day of my mammography?You will be asked to remove your top garment and follow the instructions given by the radiographer. The radiographer will gently apply a plate on your breast to take a few x-ray images from different angles. The entire procedure lasts only a few minutes.
When will I receive my results?You will be informed of your results within 2 weeks.
What do I do after I receive my mammogram report?Most of the patients (over 90%) will receive normal results. However you should continue to go for regular mammogram every year if you are between 40-49 years old and once every 2 years if you are above 50 years old.
You should continue to conduct your own breast self examination monthly to detect any lumps and swellings.
What should I do if my mammogram result is abnormal?One in ten women will be asked to go for further tests after a routine mammogram. It does not mean that you have breast cancer. Further investigations may be needed to help your doctor confirm the findings of the mammogram. Your doctor may order any of the following tests as follow up investigations:
- Conduct a clinical breast examination to look for lumps and swellings
- Repeat the mammogram
- Breast ultrasound
- Refer you to a surgeon for a biopsy
About 90% of further investigations conducted will be normal and you should continue to go for regular breast mammogram screening.
Your doctor will advise you accordingly if the further investigation results are abnormal.