Mammograms can be overwhelming, especially if it is your first time. Knowing what to expect and can make things a little easier. Dr. Rameysh Danovani Mahmood, Consultant Radiologist and Medical Director for SWI, explains all.
At what age and how often should I start breast screening? How often?
Singapore’s current screening mammography guidelines advocates women from age 50-69 to undergo screening mammography every 2 years. However, women in the age group of 40-49 are also encouraged to discuss with their physicians and to participate in screening mammography. For this age group, the recommendation is for yearly mammography screening instead.
Why is it important to have regular screenings?
Screening mammograms have been shown to provide improved survival from breast cancer by up to 40%, and this has been proven in numerous studies performed worldwide. With screening mammograms, there is good possibility of catching the cancer early and at a small size, even before development of any symptoms. Depending on the cancer type, a wider treatment option may also be available for small cancers, especially with surgery where not only can the cancer be treated, but the cosmetic outcome could be more favourable.
What can I expect when I arrive at your clinic?
Our clinic is a dedicated women-only imaging centre focusing on breast imaging and procedures. We value the comfort and privacy of our patients, and our services are provided with these key features in mind. Our experienced radiology staffs would be able to assist our patients, to help reduce the anxiety and stress related to a breast imaging examination.
What type of tests do you run for a breast screening?
We offer standard mammograms (2D mammograms) as well as tomosynthesis (also known as 3D mammograms). The latter is a technological enhancement of mammography which has been shown to be superior for cancer detection. These can be supplemented with breast ultrasound in our centre. For select group of high-risk patients, screening breast MRI is also provided in collaboration with our partner clinics.
Does a mammogram hurt?
There are varying reports from patients with regards to the discomfort during mammograms. For most patients, the examination is pain free, but some patients do complain of discomfort to a varying degree. For the most part, mammogram examination is a short procedure (a matter of seconds per breast) and the discomfort, if any, is not usually long lasting. In addition, the mammography examination in our centre can be performed using a compression paddle with a curved contour that could follow the natural curvature of the breasts, and this could help reduce the discomfort in some patients. Nevertheless, if a patient routinely observes cyclical breast tenderness in relation to her menstrual cycle, it may be better to avoid having mammograms during these periods. Alternatively, you could also consider over the counter pain killers to be taken just prior to your visit to the mammogram clinic.
How long will the tests take?
Routine mammograms can usually be performed within a short period of time (5-10 minutes for the entire examination), even if both 2D and 3D images are taken together. With the latest technology, the combination of both 2D and 3D mammograms can be taken in as fast as 4 seconds per image. On the other hand, an ultrasound examination may take slightly longer with a variable amount of time. Depending on the complexity of the examination, an ultrasound of the breasts may take up to 30 minutes.
How long do I have to wait for my results?
As breast imagers, we fully understand the anxiety that a patient may have when it comes to the results of a mammogram examination. Hence we strive to deliver the final reports to our patients and their referring doctors within 48 hours. However, if there is pressing concern, we encourage our patients to reach out to a member of our staffs and we would be happy to arrange a consultation with the radiologist.
What happens if I get an irregular result?
A screening mammogram may contain equivocal findings requiring further evaluation, or it may be definitively abnormal in approximately 10-15% of cases. In these patients, further evaluation by using additional imaging and/or biopsy may be required. If a patient is referred from another physician or clinic, the abnormal report will be sent to the referring doctor, and in significant cases, our radiologist will contact the referring doctor personally. For self-referred patients, they are encouraged to have a consultation with our radiologist to advise on the next best approach. Referral to a breast specialist may be required based on the imaging findings.
Dr Rameysh will be giving a breast health zoom talk in conjunction with IMC on September the 29th at 10:00 am.
To register click here.
SWI is a dedicated women-only breast imaging specialist clinic in Camden. They provide the latest technology (3Dimension, Biopsy and Contrast enhanced Mammogram) in a personal private environment and deliver reports in 24 to 48 hours.