Mammography is widely regarded to be the most effective method of breast cancer detection, and has been shown to improve the chances of survival through early detection of malignancies. Mammography is an x-ray procedure and it therefore involves some exposure to radiation. However, the amount of radiation is extremely low. Be sure to tell your doctor if you suspect you might be pregnant or if you are breast-feeding.
During the test, you will be asked to remove clothing from the waist up. Your breasts are placed on the x-ray surface and a compression device is applied. This compression improves the quality of the x-ray and may cause some mild discomfort. (If you are experiencing breast tenderness you should speak to your doctor about postponing the procedure until this condition has subsided.) The technologist may take more than one view of each breast. After the film has been developed, the results are read by a radiologist specially trained in the interpretation of breast images.
If your results indicate that there is an abnormality, you should not panic. In the overwhelming majority of cases, these turn out to be benign. Your doctor may order additional tests to determine the cause of the abnormality, including additional mammograms.