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What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is an X-ray image of your breast. It is used to find and diagnose breast disease in women. Your doctor may order a mammogram if you have a breast problem such as a lump, pain, or discharge from a nipple. Your doctor may also order one as a screening test. The test can look for breast cancers, noncancerous or benign tumors, and cysts before they can be felt.

Why might I need a mammogram?

You may need a mammogram as a screening test or to help your doctor make a diagnosis. If you are older than 25, you should have a mammogram if you have these symptoms:

•A lump
•Thickened skin on your breast
•Skin indentation on your breast
•A nipple with leaking fluid, or discharge
•A sore on a nipple that doesn’t get better
•Breast pain

When to get a mammogram

Different health experts have different recommendations for women who have no symptoms of breast cancer:
•The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening every 2 years for women ages 50 to 74.
•The American Cancer Society recommends screening be an option for women who are at average risk, starting at age 40. Mammograms should be done every year for all women ages 45 to 54. Then you can switch to mammograms every 2 years. Or you have the choice to continue annual mammograms.

What are the risks of a mammogram?

A mammogram is done with X-rays, which use a small amount of radiation. 
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