●Screening mammography in research studies has consistently been found to decrease breast cancer-related death.
●You will get two views of each breast (top to bottom, and side to side.) and the better the breast compression is the better the image will be.
●You can help direct the amount of breast compression during the exam and you can take a mild anesthetic such as ibuprofen or Tylenol prior to the exam.
●Generally mammograms are as accurate in women with large breasts as in women with small breasts.
●Mammograms are more accurate in older women than in younger women.
●When to have your first mammogram and how often to repeat should be determined individually with your gyno. Generally most recommend your first at 40 and then every 1-2 years after, stopping when you are too old to be treated for an early cancer.
●The mammogram will expose you to radiation but it is not much. The radiation dose received from a routine screening mammogram is equivalent to the dose received from natural background radiation we get from the earth’s atmosphere over three months. Women with genetic abnormalities are at greater risk for radiation-induced cancer and could discuss with their gyno what is the best strategy for them.
●Digital mammography is current considered the best test for image quality in the average women, but 3D mammograms are indicated in many cases.
●Most radiology departments also now have mammography with computer-aided detection (CAD), but due to finding more suspicious areas CAD may increase need for recall or follow up examinations
●Diagnostic mammograms are performed for women with symptoms, or a mass or a known history of cancer. Diagnostic mammograms usually have additional views are obtained, such as oblique views rather than just a view from top or side, and magnification may be used as well.
●Increased breast density both increases the risk of breast cancer and decreases the sensitivity of mammography to detect small lesions, and this is the setting that most often calls for 3D screening breast tomosynthesis.
●Women with implants can have safe and regularly performed mammograms. If you have no breasts, because you have had all your breast tissue removed, you no longer need mammograms.. Standard imaging technique in women with breast implants involves four views.
●You can expect a report that will both describe your results in words as well as give you a BI-RADS score. A score of 1 is normal, and the best, a score of 5 indicates a test that appears to be cancerous.
●Ultrasound and be used to help distinguish solid and cystic breast masses and have no radiation so are very safe to use in young women with breast symptoms.