A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast and is used to screen for signs of breast cancer and to investigate lumps. Mammograms can show benign or precancerous tumours as well as malignant ones but may not detect every case of breast cancer. For this reason, it is important to examine your breasts regularly. You should have routine mammograms from the age of 50 because the risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. The procedure is often uncomfortable but lasts only a few minutes. Two or three pictures are taken of each breast.
The radiographer helps you to place your breast in the X-ray machine between the plastic cover and the X-ray plate so that the breast tissue can be viewed easily.
The breast is firmly compressed between the plastic cover and the X-ray plate. X-rays pass down through the breast and on to the X-ray plate.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.