Mammography is a routine breast imaging tool that is used to detect the presence and progression of breast cancer. As the use of mammograms have become more widespread, breast cancer deaths have declined making mammograms a vital life-saving procedure in women’s’ health.
A mammogram is a very low dose x-ray of the breast using specialized equipment and technologists. This technique provides the sharpest images of the inner structures of the breast and has been developed to detect small cancers much sooner than physical examination. Mammograms can be used to detect cancer as well as other breast tissue abnormalities.
Digital mammography equipment has been specially adapted to the female anatomy enabling radiologists to view and manipulate images on high-resolution computer monitors. This provides more complete images and enhanced visualization of breast tissue structures. The radiologist can also focus on specific areas to help detect small calcifications, masses, and other changes that may indicate early signs of cancer. The result is improved productivity and accuracy for radiologists.
Current guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the American Cancer Society (ACS), the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Radiology (ACR) recommend screening mammography every year for women, beginning at age 40.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommends that women who have had breast cancer and those who are at increased risk due to a genetic history of breast cancer should seek expert medical advice about whether they should begin screening before age 40 and about the frequency of screening.
Before scheduling a mammogram, you should discuss problems in your breasts with your doctor. In addition, inform your doctor of hormone use, any prior surgeries and family or personal history of breast cancer. Generally, the best time is one week following your period. Do not schedule your mammogram for the week before your period if your breasts are usually tender during this time. Always inform your doctor and technologist if there is any possibility that you are pregnant.
On the day of the exam do not wear lotion, deodorant or powder under your arms or on your breasts. Describe any problems you’re experiencing with your breasts with your technologist. Remove all jewelry and clothing from the waist up – you will be given a gown that opens in the front.
To image your breast, an x-ray technician will position you near the machine and your breast will be placed on a platform and compressed with a paddle. Breast compression is necessary in order to:
The technologist will go behind a glass shield while making the x-ray exposure. You will be asked to change positions slightly between views. The process is repeated for the other breast. Routine views are a top-to-bottom and side view.
The exam takes about 30 minutes. The technologist will apply compression on your breast and, as a result, you will feel pressure on the breast as it is squeezed by the compressor. Some women with sensitive breasts may experience some minor discomfort. Be sure to inform the technologist if pain occurs as compression is increased. If discomfort is significant, less compression will be used.
Centrelake Imaging & Oncology is proud to feature full-field digital mammography systems. Our network is one of the first installations incorporating this cutting edge technology in the Inland Empire and extended this to the San Gabriel Valley.
Compared with standard mammograms, which are recorded on film, computer-based digital mammograms are more accurate, especially in women under 50, those with dense breast tissue, and those who are premenopausal.
Digital mammograms provide many benefits for women and their doctors, including:
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