A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast. It can be used to check for breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease. It can also be used if you have a lump or other sign of breast cancer.
Screening mammography is the type of mammogram that checks you when you have no symptoms. It can help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer among women ages 40 to 70. But it can also have drawbacks. Mammograms can sometimes find something that looks abnormal but isn't cancer. This leads to further testing and can cause you anxiety. Sometimes mammograms can miss cancer when it is there. It also exposes you to radiation. You should talk to your doctor about the benefits and drawbacks of mammograms. Together, you can decide when to start and how often to have a mammogram.
Mammograms are also recommended for younger women who have symptoms of breast cancer or who have a high risk of the disease.
When you have a mammogram, you stand in front of an x-ray machine. The person who takes the x-rays places your breast between two plastic plates. The plates press your breast and make it flat. This may be uncomfortable, but it helps get a clear picture. You should get a written report of your mammogram results within 30 days.
NIH: National Cancer Institute
- Mammograms (Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health) Available in Spanish
- Mammograms (National Cancer Institute) Available in Spanish
- Mammograms and Other Breast Imaging Tests (American Cancer Society)
- Mammography (Radiological Society of North America, American College of Radiology)
- What Is a Mammogram and When Should I Get One? (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Available in Spanish
- About Half of Women May Benefit from Mammograms at 40: Analysis (04/14/2016, HealthDay)
- Mammograms May Also Help Spot Heart Disease, Study Suggests (03/24/2016, HealthDay)
Diagnosis and Tests
- Screening for Breast Problems (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) - PDF
- Accuracy of Mammograms (Susan G. Komen for the Cure)
- Breast Density and Your Breast Mammogram Report (American Cancer Society) - PDF
- Dense Breasts (Radiological Society of North America, American College of Radiology)
- Mammogram: Can It Find Cancer in Dense Breasts? (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Mammograms in Special Circumstances (American Cancer Society)
- Mammography: What You Need to Know (Food and Drug Administration)
- Nipple Aspirate Test Is No Substitute for Mammogram (Food and Drug Administration) Available in Spanish
- Thermogram No Substitute for Mammogram (Food and Drug Administration) Available in Spanish
- What Does the Doctor Look for on a Mammogram? (American Cancer Society) Available in Spanish
- Frequently Asked Questions about Digital Mammography (Food and Drug Administration)
- Galactography (Ductography) (Radiological Society of North America, American College of Radiology) Available in Spanish
- Scintimammography (Breast Specific Gamma Imaging-BSGI) (Radiological Society of North America, American College of Radiology)
Statistics and Research
- Breast Cancer Patients with High Density Mammograms Do Not Have Increased Risk of Death (National Cancer Institute)
- Breast Cancer Screening Rates (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Experimental and Other Breast Imaging Methods (American Cancer Society)
- FastStats: Mammography/Breast Cancer (National Center for Health Statistics)
- Women with Disabilities and Breast Cancer Screening (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Mammography (National Institutes of Health)