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What Happens When You’re in a Mammogram? Here We Explain

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imagingUnfortunately, a full 12% of American women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetimes. This is why it is so important to get regular mammograms at a diagnostic imaging center so the radiologist can be aware of any changes to your breast tissue. Have you ever wondered what the doctor is looking for when you go in for a MRI or mammogram? Here we explain a little more.

A mass/lump/tumor
When it comes to mammograms, a mass, a lump, and a tumor are all considered the same thing. In general, these are areas that look abnormal and can be many things including a non-cancerous, fluid-filled cyst, or solid fibroadenomas.

It is important to remember that both solid tumors and cysts can feel the same, and if your doctor notices a lump, an ultrasound will be performed as it is the best way to see if the sac is filled with fluid. If it doesn’t have fluid, the doctor will determine if there is a need for more tests based on the size, shape, and edges.

Calcifications
A calcification is a small mineral deposit that can be found in the breast tissue. They show up as small white marks on the imaging technology but are not always a cause for alarm. There are two different types of calcifications:

Microcalcifications
These are tiny specks of minerals and generally are of more concern. Just because they show up doesn’t mean they have been caused by cancer, but a radiologist and doctor will have to analyze the shape and layout of the calcifications to determine if they are a threat. After the microcalcifications are noticed, the next step is typically a biopsy.

Macrocalcifications
On the other hand, these are large, coarse calcifications that are typically caused by aging, old and new injuries, and inflammation. They are found in about half of women over 50 and are not caused by cancer of any sort.

Breast Density
Simply speaking, your breast density compares how much fatty tissue you have to its fibrosity. Dense breasts are common but have a higher risk of breast cancer as dense breast tissue can make it harder to find any masses or lumps.

As always, early detection is incredibly important when it comes to breast cancer. If you are headed into a mammogram, you can breathe easy because now you know what to expect!

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