Early detection of breast cancer and breast cancer screening

Early detection of breast cancer and breast cancer screening pertain all women aged between 45 and 74. According to world experience and scientific literature this age range can benefit most from screening program, as it allows early detection of breast cancer. All women belonging to this age range – approximately 840,000 in Emilia-Romagna – are invited to undergo tests at specialized Centres: once a year, for women aged between 45 and 49; every two years, for women aged between 50 and 74. Within the screening program, mammogram and possible subsequent investigations are free of charge. Breast cancer screening ensures continuity of diagnosis and care; if necessary, it encourages surgical conservative treatments. 

Invitation to breast cancer screening

Screening tests are directly arranged by operators working at Local Health Autority Screening Office. Women, who have their permanent address or usually reside in Reggio Emilia Province, who are aged between 45 and 74, receive a personal letter with all useful information to undergo the test free of charge; invitation letter specifies how to change date and time of appointment. 

What is a mammogram?

Mammogram is an x-ray exam of the breast; it represents the most effective way for early detection of breast cancer.

How is a mammogram done?

The test is performed in Radiology Unit by breast-imaging technologists. Woman is invited to stand in front of the machine, position each breast, one at a time, on the mammography equipment, and follow tecnologist’s instruction. The breast is gently compressed, and x-rays are taken horizontally then obliquely. Mammogram takes a short time  (10 - 15 minutes), it is not painful, but some women find mammogram to be uncomfortable, because of breast compression, which is necessary to obtain the best image of the breast.

Why should I undergo mammogram?

Because it allows to detect small lesions, before they can be identifiable by touch.

At what age and how often should I undergo mammogram?

To extend early detection benefits, which have been developing since 1996 (when screening program began), since January 1st 2010 screening program has been extended to other ages. By a personal letter sent by Local Health Authority district, mammogram is being offered to: women aged between 45 and 49 (every year), women aged between 50 and 74 (every two years). 

How much does the test cost?

Mammogram and possible further tests are free of charge.

Is mammogram painful or dangerous?

To perform a good mammogram, it is necessary to press breast; some women find it painful, but it takes only a short time. X rays dose used in mammogram is very low, thanks to modern breast imaging equipment which are used and constantly checked. Therefore, the risk is negligible compared to the benefits of early detection of cancer.

When and how will I get the results of my mammogram?

The mammogram does not include medical examination; to ensure a more accurate diagnosis, mammogram is separately read by two radiologists. This double reading can delay answer. If mammogram is normal, if there is no problem, the outcome is given by letter within a month. If mammogram is abnormal, woman will be contacted by phone to have additional examination, and schedule any additional care. The whole diagnostic pathway is free of charge. 

What are the limitations of mammograms

As is the case with most medical tests, mammography has its limitations: they are connected to mammography itself, because of difficulties in reading the features of breast tissue or because cancer is too small to be detected by mammogram. Thanks to a steady supervision of technique and reading quality, when there is cancer, even a very small one, it can be detected in 80% of cases. It happens infrequently (1 out of 1,500 women undergoing mammogram), but it is possibile that, after a negative mammogram and before the following one, an interval breast cancer develops. For this reason, it is very important to pay attention to possible breast changes in the period between two mammograms and promptly inform one’s medical practitioner. It is also possible to detect very small slow-growing breast cancers (about 10%) which would not endanger woman’s health; unfortunately, no technique can tell from the start between a growing and a not-growing breast cancer.

Where is mammogram  performed? 

It is possible to undergo free of charge mammogram at Radiology Units of the below mentioned Hospitals: 

To make or change Your appointment: Phone  0522-335327
Ospedale Sant’Anna di Castelnovo ne’ Monti - Via Roma, 2 - Castelnovo ne’ Monti

Ospedale San Sebastiano di Correggio - Via Mandriolo Superiore, 11 - Correggio

Ospedale Civile di Guastalla - Via Donatori di Sangue, 1 - Guastalla

Ospedale Franchini di Montecchio - Via Barilla, 16 - Montecchio

Ospedale Magati di Scandiano - Via Martiri della Libertà, 6 - Scandiano

Ospedale Santa Maria Nuova di Reggio Emilia - Viale Risorgimento, 80 - Reggio Emili

Ultimo aggiornamento: 25/07/22