Mammography remains the best screening test for most women. A screening mammogram takes an X-ray picture of the breast and can find breast cancers when they are small, less likely to have spread and more likely to be treated successfully.
Mammograms are considered safe and use a low dose of radiation. The benefits of screening and finding cancer early are more important than any potential harm from the X-ray. Most women will have normal mammogram results.
How Effective Are Screening Mammograms?
Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early. But they are not perfect tests. Mammograms may miss some breast cancers. Also, some cancers develop in the time between screens. However, many studies have shown that regular mammograms reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer.
Some breast cancers that are diagnosed through screening may never cause symptoms in a woman during her lifetime (i.e., over-diagnosis). Therefore, some women may have surgery or treatment for a breast cancer that would not have become life threatening.
Not all cancers found at screening can be treated successfully.
To learn more about what happens during a mammogram and how to get ready for a mammogram, see the Mammogram FAQs.