[wptab name=’Mammography Study’]
What is a Mammography?
A mammography is a safe low-dose x-ray procedure that films the internal tissues of your breasts. Mammograms are simple exams performed as a standard diagnostic study, to determine the possibility of irregularities within the breast. They can reveal areas too small or deep to feel which may or may not require further investigation.
Does Every Woman Need a Mammogram?
Yes. The cause of breast cancer is still unknown. Therefore, early detection is a woman’s best protection. A mammogram may discover a change as small as the head of a pin, years before it can be felt. Additionally, having mammograms done on a regular basis allows for comparison of a baseline study with future mammograms. This provides a more accurate assessment of any changes in the breast. The sooner it is detected, the easier and more effective the treatment.
When should I have a Mammogram?
The American Cancer Society (based upon numerous scientific studies) suggests that most women begin by age 40 and continue yearly for the rest of their lives. Your health care provider can help you determine when you should begin and how often you should have a mammogram based upon specific medical facts in your family history.
What Will the Exam be like?
A radiology technologist specializing in mammography will perform the mammogram. This technologist has completed a rigorous course of education and training, and works under close supervision of the radiologist to assure the most accurate results from your examination. You will be asked to undress from the waist up. The technologist will position your breast and gently compress it upon the image plate (which contains the film). It is necessary to spread the breast tissue to reduce the thickness of the breast. This allows for lower dose of radiation, and the clearest possible x-ray image. You will probably have at least two images taken in different positions. The procedure then will be repeated for the other breast. The amount of radiation received during the mammogram is very low- it is equivalent to that received on a round trip from New York to L.A. flight. The whole exam usually takes about 15 to 30 minutes.
How Will I Learn the Results?
The radiologist will study your mammogram. The results will be made available to you from your designated health care provider, or the radiologist, depending upon who was your initial contact. A regular program of breast self-examination, mammography, and physical exams most effectively provides early detection and treatment. Roughly 96% of all breast cancer cases can be detected when all three methods are used together as part of a planned program. Many normal breasts (for women under 50) tend to be lumpy and are not a sign of cancer. Every women should become familiar with the look and feel of her own breasts so that she will be able to recognize any changes that might occur.
Tell your doctor or technologist applying the exam, if you are:
- Pregnant or think you may be.
- If you’ve had breast surgery.
You Should Also:
- Wear comfortable clothing.
- Avoid wearing deodorant and powders.
- Avoid wearing jewelry, metallic objects may interfere with the accuracy of the film image.
- For a more comfortable exam, schedule it for the week after the onset of your menstrual cycle.
- Bring previous mammograms for comparison.
- Be sure to ask any questions relating to your examination.
[wptab name=’Digital Mammography’]
Digital Mammography Examination
What is the difference between film screen (analog) mammography and digital mammography?
In film screen (analog) mammography x-ray beams are used to capture the image on a film cassette, then processed in a special mammography machine. This is low dose radiation that produces high quality x-rays that is able to demonstrate calcifications 1-2mm in size. The final product is a film depicting the breast in one or two basic positions, which subsequently hung on a viewing board for the reading radiologist to analyze.
Digital mammography uses a specially designed digital detector that also uses x-ray beams to capture the image. This detector then converts the x-ray beams into electronic signals, which are then transferred to a computer. Digital mammography can provide decreased radiation dose of 30-40% because the entire process is faster than that of the analog machine. The computerized image is then available for the radiologist to review on a specialized high resolution monitor. Images may be manipulated by the radiologist using the computer’s tools such as magnifying, masking of light, inversion (negative of the image), and comparison to prior mammograms.
What are the advantages of digital mammography?
The advantages of digital mammography are significant. The workflow of the exam is more efficient, since the technologist does not have to leave the patient in the room to process the image. The monitor in the room immediately reveals the image, allowing the technologist to observe the image, and decide if repositioning is necessary. This ultimately leads to fewer mistakes and retakes. As mentioned above, the dose is lower than film screen mammography. The ability to transfer images between centers, allowing for intradepartmental review, drastically improves patient care.
The most noted advantage of digital mammography is the documented improved breast cancer detection in dense breasts. This is afforded by resolution of the image, and the ability of the radiologist to manipulate the image by computer graphics which is not possible with a film.
[wptab name=’Breast Self-Examination’]
Step 1 – Look for changes
- Stand or sit (with arms at your side) in front of a mirror under good light and look for changes in the size, shape, texture, or color of your breast. Check for indentations, pulled-in nipples, scaliness, rash, or prolonged skin conditions.
- Next, raise your arms above your head and repeat the same steps. Also, turn in profile, and examine your breast from side.
- Now, press your hands down upon your hips and tense your chest muscles. This will make any changes more prominent.
Step 2- Feel the changes
Begin by lying flat on your back with a pillow under your shoulder. Use the pads of three fingers in a bowed-out position. Move your fingers in circles about the size of a dime. You should use cream or powder to help you fingers glide from one position to the next. Use light, medium, and firm pressure at each spot to examine the full thickness of your breast tissue. Large breasted women should do the above exam while lying on their side. If any changes are noted call your health care specialist right away. The method outlined here is a new approach researched by the American Cancer Society. It covers a large area in a more detailed manner.