Treatment for breast tumors may not involve a complete mastectomy. A Breast Conserving Treatment (BCT) such as a lumpectomy (the removal of the tumor and a margin of normal tissue surrounding it) may be utilized in conjunction with radiation and/or chemotherapy. In this case, it is suggested that the patient have a mammogram of the affected breast six months after completion of treatment because radiation and chemotherapy can alter the normal view of breasts on mammograms. The radiologist can then use this image as a baseline to compare with any future images. Opinions differ on the optimum frequency of mammography after treatment. The decision is one to be made by the physician and patient.(1)
If a total, modified radical, or radical mastectomy has been performed, mammograms are unnecessary for that breast. Also, if reconstruction was performed afterwards with implants or muscle tissue, regular mammograms are not usually taken. The unaffected breast should still be screened according to normal standards. Patients who have undergone a subcutaneous mastectomy (one in which the nipple and tissue just under the skin are retained) require regular screening of the affected breast.(1)
For more information about breast cancer treatments visit the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.