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Can mammogram cause breast cancer?

Answered by
Dr. S Patra


Practicing since :2011

Answered : 4048 Questions

Posted on Thu, 31 Jan 2013 in Women's Health
Question: During a mammogram, the lab technician usually tries to cover areas under the armpits. Can breast cancer develop starting the armpits? Or it just spreads to lymph nodes there? What I am asking is, if cancer is detected in the armpits, it should be in the main breasts already. What is the significance for a mammo to cover the armpit area?
Answered by Dr. S Patra 1 hour later

Thanks for posting your query.

Mammography is low-energy X-rays to examine breast and used as a diagnostic & screening tool for early detection of breast cancer. Characteristic findings are micro calcification and masses. As breast cancer is the most common and leading cancer in women,mammography is done to every women above 40 yrs age for screening purpose.

My comments are as follows according to your query:
1)Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in the cells of the breast. It never start from armpits and direction of spreading is from breast to axilla or armpit.
2)Breast cancer spreads through body lymphatic system. Cancer cells enter lymphatic vessels and begin to grow in lymph nodes. Most lymph vessels of the breast finally join to Axillary Lymph Nodes (A group of lymph node under the arm/ armpit). These lymph nodes are linked up with other body lymphatics.
3)If axillary lymph nodes are enlarged or palpable on examination,then it suggests that cancer cells (originated from breast) have entered the blood stream and there is higher chance of spreading to other system/ organs.
4)In Mediolateral-oblique (MLO) view,imaging technique covers main area of breast and tissue of armpit. It is mandatory to cover armpit area to know the extent of spreading of breast cancer cells to axillary lymph node.

Please consult with radiologist or surgeon regarding this to get a proper guideline and treatment.

Practice self breast examination (SBE) after periods get over in every cycle.

Hope I have answered your query. If you have any further questions I will be happy to help.

Wish your good health.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Mohammed Kappan

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