A bit about mammograms

Mammograms have two purposes;
1. As a screening tool to detect breast cancer. Screening is recommended for women over the age of 50 (women over 40 are also welcome to have screening mammograms) every two years.

2. As breast imaging for diagnostic purposes. So if you find something unusual in your breast, a mammogram may be required to find out more information about what's going on.

Screening mammography, especially for women aged 50-74 years, is currently the best method available for detecting breast cancer early.

Regular screening mammograms are not recommended for women under 40 years of age. The tissue of young women's breasts tends to be denser than that of older women. This is due to the influence of hormones. On a mammogram, dense breast tissue shows up as a white area. Breast cancers also appear white and are therefore more difficult to find on younger women's mammograms. Finding a tumour in a mammogram of a woman under the age of 40 is like "looking for a snowball in a blizzard." However if you are sent for investigative screening is likely that you will receive a mammogram and an ultra sound even if you are under 40.