Mammography is a procedure that uses low level x-rays to detect abnormal parts in the breasts and is one of the best ways to discover breast cancer in its early stages.

Mammography is considered to be sensitive enough to find the possibility of cancers early on. For such reasons, the test can show cancer, when the cancer is not present (false Mammography–positive result), and generally more certain follow-up examinations are required to confirm the result. Having a mammogram between an interval of 1-2 years may decrease death by breast cancer by 25-35% in females of ages 50 and older, who experience no symptoms.

No studies thus far have proven that getting a mammogram regularly will decrease breast cancer related deaths in females under the age of 50. However, the evidence can be lacking because breast cancers are not common in younger females, so showing benefits are more difficult. Recent evidence is compatible with but doesn’t prove – the propositions that younger females will benefit from having a mammogram. For such reasons, many doctors recommend that females have mammograms regularly beginning at age of 40.

The American Cancer Society recommends having the first mammogram at age of 40. Although, a lump is in some cases discovered, the mammograms also provide a permanent record comparison with subsequent mammograms. The American Cancer Society also advices to have a mammogram at intervals of 1-2 years between ages 40-49 and yearly starting at age 50. In study of females, who have had no symptoms, mammography discovered approx 40% of cancers misdiagnosed during physical examinations. However, mammograms are not infallible and can miss up to 15% of breast cancer cases. If some changes, which can be cancerous are discovered, a physician performs a biopsy, where a tiny portion of the lump is taken out surgically and tested under a microscope.

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