Mammography is the best imaging tool that healthcare providers can use to detect early signs of and diagnose breast cancer. The goal of screening for breast cancer is to find it before it causes symptoms (like a lump that can be felt). Getting a mammogram is an important part of your healthcare, but many mothers wonder if it is safe to have a mammogram while breastfeeding.
The short answer is YES. Breastfeeding mothers are able to have mammograms. Regardless of whether you are breastfeeding or not, any changes or abnormalities in your breast should be evaluated.
How do mammograms work?
During a mammogram, each of your breasts is pressed between two plastic plates and an X-ray is taken. Later, a doctor will look at the X-ray and give you the results. Mammography uses low-energy x-rays to create detailed images of the breast. They are primarily used for early detection of breast cancer, and monitoring breast issues.
Are mammograms safe while breastfeeding?
Although breast cancers in lactating women are extremely rare, they are known to occur. Changes or abnormalities of any kind in your breast should be investigated with the same level of concern regardless of whether you are breastfeeding or not. Research shows that breastfeeding is associated with reduced mortality in women with breast cancer. X-rays do not affect human milk, so patients can safely resume nursing immediately after the mammogram.
While it is possible to have a mammogram when breastfeeding, the milk can obscure small structures in the breast. For this reason, it is recommended that breastfeeding mothers with no breast symptoms hold off on their screening mammography until approximately 3 months after they are finished breastfeeding. This allows for a clearer, more accurate mammogram. However, if a lump or other symptom is discovered while breastfeeding, the mother should still come in for imaging to have the area evaluated with mammography and/or breast ultrasound.
How to prepare for a mammogram
Although screening guidelines for mammograms depend on age, preparing for a mammogram largely remains the same. For breastfeeding patients, it is recommended that the breast be as empty as possible before the procedure, so patients should be sure to pump or breastfeed right before the appointment.
Due to milk production, there is more dense tissue present in a lactating breast than in a non-lactating one: this may make it harder to read the results. The amount of tissue in your breast depends on the frequency that your baby is breastfeeding, depending on the age and stage your baby is at you may not be able to adjust the frequency of feeds.
To book a scan, visit us at Medmo.com. Medmo helps people schedule radiology imaging tests – such as MRI, CT scans, PET, and more – at nearby accredited centers and identify the payment solution that works best for them.