Understanding Mammography Screening -Your Quick Guide!


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Mammography is an imaging technique used to diagnose breast cancer in early stages. It helps diagnose tumors before women experience any symptoms. Mammography is done using low-dose X-ray radiation. Therefore, the harm due to radiation exposure is minimal. 

The imaging helps diagnose breath cancer when it is entirely treatable. Idaho mammography screening is a quick and straightforward procedure without any major complications. 

In recent times, there have been a few advances in mammography technique, and these include: 

Full-field digital mammography. 

Commonly known as digital mammography. In this advanced procedure, the x-ray film is replaced by specialized electronics that convert the x-ray pictures of the breast to mammographic images. The advantage of the procedure is that it gives better images with a lower radiation dose. Moreover, the technique is highly effective. A patient’s experience while digital mammography is similar to that of conventional mammography. 

Computer-aided detection. 

This enables the radiologist to easily access the cancer growth as the cancerous region appears to be dense or calcified. 

Breast tomosynthesis. 

Breast tomosynthesis helps a radiologist to build a 3-dimensional image of the breast. It involves imaging the breast from various angles and compiling them to get a complete three-dimensional structure. However, the downside of this technique is that it uses a radiation dose higher than that used in conventional mammography. But the dosage is maintained under the allowable limits, so the risks stay minimal. Moreover, it has been reported that the abreast tomosynthesis enables a doctor to:

  • Detect breast cancer that went undetected in conventional mammography. 
  • Better chances to detect multiple tumor growths. 
  • It offers greater accuracy in determining the shape, size, and location of tumor growth in breast tissue. The technique also provides better images of abnormalities present in the breast tissue. 

Mammography has minimal side effects. The patient may expect some pain during compression, but it is entirely bearable. Possible side effects have been mentioned below: 

Excessive radiation exposure. 

If the dosage of radiation exposure has been miscalculated or malfunctioning of the x-ray machine can lead to excessive exposure to radiation. Moreover, the patient may develop cancer in some cases due to excessive radiation exposure. 

False-positive mammogram. 

To be 100% sure about the presence of a tumor in breast tissue, a woman has to undergo follow-up procedures like biopsies or additional imaging to confirm the diagnosis. In 15-30% of cases, a mammogram positive for breast cancer has no abnormal findings in biopsies. 

What happens during Breast mammography? 

Breast mammography is an outpatient process. An experienced radiologist places the breast of a patient on a mammography unit. Then the radiologist compresses the breast using a paddle. The compression is significant to:

  • Evenly spread the breast tissue( even thickness permits to see minute abnormalities that can go undetected due to the overlying breast tissue). 
  • Compression ensures that the breast remains in the same position and does not move. As any motion can lead to blurring of the image. 
  • Compression is also essential to reduce the x-ray scattering to get a sharp image. 

A radiologist will ask you to change positions to get multiple images from multiple angles. Once done, you will be asked to repeat the same procedure for the other breast. 

FAQ: Mammography Screening

What is mammography test for?

A mammography is a diagnostic imaging procedure performed to diagnose breast cancer. Typically, a woman gets a mammogram when she is 40 years old or older. This test is important to detect a lump or abnormal tissue. It helps physicians decide whether further tests are needed. A standard screening mammogram consists of two views: the craniocaudal view and the mediolateral-oblique view. The craniocaudal view shows the breasts from above. The mediolateral-oblique view allows for a more detailed visualization of the upper chest and breast tissue. Once the screening mammogram is completed, the radiologist will discuss the results with the patient and provide a written report.

Are mammograms painful?

Most women are concerned about whether mammograms are painful. Fortunately, the procedure is very brief and noninvasive. Although some women may experience minor discomfort during a mammogram, the procedure is not uncomfortable for most women. According to Dr. Gail Starr, director of the Betty Torricelli Institute for Breast Care and diagnostic radiologist at Hackensack University Medical Center and Palisdes Medical Center, mammograms are a must for women.

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Raushan Kumar
A Cook, Software analyst & Blogger.


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