Digital Mammography: Is It Right For You?
In its early stages, breast cancer has few if any symptoms. That’s why it’s important for women age 40 or older to have annual screening mammograms. Studies have shown that an annual mammogram remains the most effective way of detecting breast cancer in its early, more treatable stages.
For an annual screening mammogram, a specially trained physician will look for small changes in the breast tissue. A first-time mammogram becomes a woman’s baseline, which that be compared to mammograms in subsequent years.
Mammography provides doctors with a method to view the internal structure of the breast using low-dose x-rays. On the average, mammography can detect about 80 to 90 percent of cancers in women who don’t have any symptoms. The accuracy increases for women who have gone through menopause.
Digital and Film Mammography
There are two types of mammography currently available: standard film imaging and a newer digital method. Both use low-dose x-rays to produce images of the breast. With standard film methods, the x-ray images are produced on a special type of film.
Digital imaging works similar to a digital camera. Instead of the images being stored on film and having to be developed, solid-state detectors convert the x-rays into electrical signals that are sent to a computer. Doctors can take a digital mammogram and use the computer to enhance the image, zoom in on an area in question or even send the image to a remote location for analysis.
Benefits of Digital Mammography
Patients may notice shorter waiting times because the technologist doesn’t have to develop the film but instead can view the images on a computer screen. Since the images are checked and deemed acceptable during the initial visit, fewer women have to return for a repeat exam because of questionable areas on the original film mammogram.
A study by the National Cancer Institute found that digital mammography was more accurate in finding cancer in two groups of women – those under the age of 50 and those with dense breast issue.
For women, the most important thing they can do is make appointments for their regular screening mammogram. The American Cancer Society recommends that women begin having annual mammograms beginning at age 40.
To schedule your mammogram, please call us at 866-904-9262.