Mammograms are an important way for women to make sure that their breasts are healthy and that breast cancer is not developing. However, because mammograms require the breast tissue to be examined, women who do not have a lot of breast tissue have some worries about the procedure. Luckily, many of these worries are unnecessary. Here are three questions that women with small breasts might have about breast cancer.
1. Will a Mammogram Even Work for Me?
If you have small breasts, you might worry that you might not even have enough breast tissue for the mammogram to analyze. You might not think that the procedure will be helpful. However, you should know that many men, including those who are physically fit and likely don't have a lot of breast tissue, go in for mammograms if they have a history of male breast cancer in their family. If these men have enough tissue on their chests for the mammogram, then the technician will certainly be able to accommodate you.
2. Will Smaller Breasts Make the Mammogram Less Accurate?
Mammograms tend to be about 78% effective at locating cancer in breasts in all cases. The reason why mammograms are not 100% effective is because they work better on breasts that contain a lot of fat, rather than dense breasts. The reason for this is because fat shows up on the mammogram scanner as black. When an area is totally black, any abnormalities or issues can easily be detected. With dense breasts, there isn't a lot of room between the small amount of fat and the rest of the breast. The rest of the breast will not show up totally black and will therefore make it more difficult to see cancer in the scans. Women with smaller breasts tend to have less fat in general in that region, so their breasts tend to be more dense. However, this just means that the technician will have to look more closely.
3. Is it Going to Hurt More?
In order for a mammogram to be successful, your breasts are going to need to be spread. This is to get the largest area scanned. Regardless of the size of your breasts, this might be uncomfortable. Some people experience more discomfort than others, but ways to reduce the discomfort include avoiding foods that make your breasts feel swollen and avoiding scheduling mammograms during your period, when your breasts could be more tender.
For more information, talk to your mammography technician.