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Mammography also called mammogram, is an x-ray of the breast used for diagnosis of breast cancer. Experts recommend women who are 40 + to have mammograms every 1-2 years. In case of a personal or family history of breast cancer, doctors may still prefer earlier screenings. Mammogram recommended as a routine test to check for any cancer or changes is known as a screening mammogram. In presence of a lump or any other symptoms related to breast cancer, your doctor will go for a diagnostic mammogram.
The examination takes about 30 minutes.
Types of Mammography
Digital mammography also called, full-field digital mammography (FFDM) , is a mammography system in which an x-ray film is replaced by electronics that convert x-rays into mammographic images of the breast. These digital images are transferred to a computer for review by the radiologist and for further archiving.
Computer-aided detection (CAD) systems scan the digitised mammographic images for ruling out abnormal areas of density, mass, or calcification that point towards cancer. They highlight the crucial areas on the images and alert the radiologist to carefully evaluate the specified area.
Breast tomosynthesis, also known as 3-D mammography or digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT), is an advanced form of breast imaging where multiple images of the breast from different angles are captured and synthesized into a 3-D image set. It is similar to computed tomography (CT) imaging.
Mammography is an out-patient procedure. The breast will be placed on a special platform compressed with a clear plastic paddle. The technician gradually compresses your breast
in order to even out the breast thickness to visualise all the tissues and spread out the tissue even so that small abnormalities are less likely to be hidden by overlying breast tissue.
You will be asked to change positions in-between images. Same process will be repeated for the other breast. During the procedure, you must hold very still and shall be asked to keep from breathing for a few seconds to reduce the possibility of any blurred picture. When the examination is over, you might be asked to wait until the radiologist confirms all the necessary images been obtained.
Slight chance of cancer from excessive exposure to radiation exists. However, the benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs the risk. If there is an abnormal finding, a follow-up or biopsy may have to be performed. Pregnant women must always inform their physician of their expectant position.