Mammography: Women’s Health Focus

Mammography: Women’s Health Focus

What is mammography?

Mammography is a low-dose x-ray procedure that allows visualization of the internal structure of the breast. According to the American Cancer Society, on average mammography will detect 80 to 90 percent of breast cancers in women with symptoms.

Why is it important to have regular breast cancer screenings?

At Weeks Medical Center, we abide by and have complete confidence in the American Cancer Society’s recommendations. The society recommends annual mammogram screenings and clinical breast examinations for all women beginning at age 40. There is strong evidence that mammogram screenings substantially reduce breast cancer mortality in women ages 40 to 74. Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam with a health-care provider at least every three years.

Who is at risk for breast cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society, the risk of breast cancer increases as a woman ages; if she has never had children; or if she has her first child after 30. Studies also suggest that the risk may be higher for women who eat high-fat diets and those who smoke. It is important to remember that 80 percent of breast cancers occur in women with no risk factors. One in eight American women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

What is the best and safest mammography technology for detecting breast cancer?

Digital mammography is the most advanced mammographic imaging technology available for the early detection of breast cancer. The Radiology department at Weeks utilizes a fully digital GE mammography unit.

Are there other imaging technologies used for diagnosing breast cancer?

Ultrasound is a diagnostic procedure that uses sound waves to produce an image. Weeks uses a GE Logiq-7, which can be used as a second line diagnostic procedure after mammography when a higher level of diagnostic imaging is needed.

Is mammography screening safe?

Many women are concerned about the exposure to x-rays. Today’s digital systems result in higher-quality images with a considerably lower x-ray dose than the x-ray equipment used in the past.

Does mammography have limitations?

The American Cancer Society says there are some limitations with mammography, including false alarms. These limitations are somewhat greater in women in their 40s compared with women in their 50s and 60s. The overall effectiveness of mammography increases in post-menopausal women.

What are the current breast cancer statistics?

Only two to four mammograms of every l,000 lead to a diagnosis of cancer. About 10 percent of women who have a mammogram will require more tests, and the majority will only need an additional mammogram. Don’t panic if this happens to you. Only eight to 10 percent of those women will need a biopsy, and most (80 percent) of those biopsies will not be cancer.

What is the chance that a mammogram will save the life of a woman with breast cancer?

Studies have shown that there are between 20 to 40 percent fewer deaths due to breast cancer among women screened with mammography than among those who do not undergo such screening. The majority of deaths due to breast cancer occur in women who have never had mammography screens.

By Susie Short, RTRM

Susie Short has an extensive background in imaging and is certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists in Diagnostic Radiology and Mammography.