A mammogram is an imaging test that is done to look for any abnormalities, or medical problems, with a woman's breasts. The test uses a special x-ray machine to take pictures of both breasts. Results of mammograms are recorded on film that your healthcare provider can examine.
The purpose of mammograms is to look for breast lumps and changes in breast tissue that may develop into problems over time. Mammograms can find small lumps or growths that a healthcare provider or woman can't feel when doing a physical breast exam. Breast lumps or growths can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).
If a lump is found, a healthcare provider will order a biopsy, a test where a small amount of tissue is taken from the lump and the area around the lump. The tissue is sent to a lab to look for cancer cells or changes that may suggest cancer is likely to develop.
Finding breast cancer early means that a woman has a better chance of surviving the disease. There are also more treatment options when breast cancer is detected early.