Mammograms are breast x-rays that can detect malignant (cancerous) tumors and other breast abnormalities. It is used both to evaluate the breasts of women with symptoms (such as a lump or pain in the breast) and to screen for breast cancer in women who have no symptoms.
Mammograms usually include 2 views of each breast taken at different angles (usually downward and from the side). The breasts are compressed with plastic paddles to optimize visualization of breast tissue and abnormalities.
Mammography is one of the best ways to detect breast cancer early. Mammography is designed to be sensitive enough to detect the possibility of cancer at an early stage, sometimes years before it can be felt.
A mammogram of a female breast indicating multiple cysts.
Image credit: "Mammogram of fibrocystic breast." The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, edited by Jacqueline L. Longe, 5th ed., Gale, 2015. Gale OneFile: Health and Medicine, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/PC4205141274/HRCA?u=nysl_me_sfc&sid=HRCA&xid=f2a9be1c. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.