National Mammography Day – 21st October

About :

National Mammography Day is observed every third Friday of October and is a part of Breast Cancer Awareness month. This day serves as a reminder to all women that the best defense in the fight against breast cancer is early detection and early treatment can lead to a complete cure. This day also encourages women to take mammography as it helps in the early detection of breast cancer which if left untreated can lead to serious consequences.


What is mammogram ?

Mammography or mastography is a technique using low-dose x-rays to detect microcalcification and look at breast tissue to evaluate lumps, pain, discharge, skin changes and other abnormalities. A mammogram is a non invasive procedure that helps in the early detection of breast cancer in women, before any outward physical signs or symptoms and for detecting tumours inside the breast tissue that cannot be felt. This procedure is also used after cancer detection and even treatment, to make sure that the cancer has been removed or is successfully in remission.


Types :

1)Screening mammogram – It is used to look for signs of breast cancer in women who do not have any breast symptoms or problems. X-ray pictures of each breast are taken, typically from two different angles.

2)Diagnostic mammogram – It is done when there are symptoms or something unusual is seen on a screening mammogram. They may include extra views (images) of the breast that are not part of screening mammograms. Sometimes diagnostic mammograms are used to screen women who were treated for breast cancer in the past.


Importance of Mammogram  :

A mammogram is the best primary screening tool in the early detection of breast cancer and can detect a breast lump two to three years earlier than a woman can feel it, thus, reducing the need for further invasive testing like needle aspirations or biopsies. Mammograms often show abnormal areas in the breast and the breast changes found are calcifications, masses, asymmetries and distortions. A baseline mammogram often detects ‘dense breasts’ and women having dense breasts can be at a higher risk of undetected breast cancer due to the thickness of the breast tissue. Though mammograms are unable to find every cancer, but, they can help detect breast cancer at an early stage leading to early treatment and a better chance of recovery, as well as the five year survival rate for breast cancer exceeds 96 percent.


Recommendation  :

Women aged 40 years and above and those at a higher risk for breast cancer should schedule a mammography annually. Even if one does not have breast health concerns, or lumps in the breast, no family history breast cancer, one should still go for regular mammograms as they can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer. Factors which increase the risk of breast cancer include heavy smoking, excessive drinking or a family history of breast cancer and as one gets older the chances of having breast cancer increase, even after menopause.


Conclusion  :

Annual mammograms remain the most important tool for diagnosing breast cancer in its early stages, and when caught early, provides a greater chance for a cure and giving best results. There is also incidence of breast cancer among men and they might require mammogram if symptoms are prevalent. National Mammography Day is a part of Breast Cancer Awareness month which is observed in the month of October all over the world.


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