Types of Mammograms

The strongest protection against breast cancer has to be an early diagnosis. As such, almost 40 million screening mammograms are conducted in the United States each year. Mammograms can frequently detect breast abnormalities before they manifest as signs and symptoms of cancer-related diseases. Whether it's your first or tenth mammogram, you may have worries or questions regarding the process. Find out more about mammograms here, and then schedule your digital mammography at Advanced Medical Imaging.

What is a Mammogram?

Mammograms are non-invasive breast examinations that can identify breast cancer and other abnormalities in the early stages. This invariably results in detections when they are most treatable. A performing technician uses special equipment to obtain X-rays of the patient’s breasts during the process. The equipment compresses the breast tissue between two plates, allowing for a clearer and detailed view of tissues. A radiologist examines these mammography images to look for visible abnormalities. Mammography is generally a "screening exam" by doctors as it can detect tumors and abnormalities in the breasts but does not tell if they are cancerous. But your doctor can use the results from the mammogram to see whether any further tests are needed.

Mammography exposes you to very little radiation. With advancements in medical science, the quantity of radiation emitted by contemporary mammography has substantially reduced over the last decade. According to the American Cancer Society, such radiation exposure during mammography screenings is roughly equivalent to the amount of radiation a person receives from their natural surroundings (background radiation) over three months or so.

Division of mammograms

  • Screening mammogram - A screening mammography is used to check for breast cancer in patients with no symptoms or signs of the disease. This test involves obtaining two sets of X-ray diagnostic images of each breast. These are put through comparative analysis in order to discover hidden cancers or micro-calcifications that might not be visible during routine tests.
  • Diagnostic mammogram - A diagnostic mammography is one that is used to screen for breast cancer in a patient who has a lump or other symptom of the disease. Pain, thickening of the breast skin, and nipple discharges might all be relevant symptoms. An abrupt change in breast form or size can also be concerning for doctors to prescribe mammography.

Types of mammograms

  • Traditional mammography: Conventional mammograms use low-dose X-ray technology to obtain diagnostic images of the breasts. Such images are used to monitor women's breasts and to aid in the early identification and diagnosis of breast cancers. X-rays are the most often used medical imaging technique. However, overlapping layers of tissue can be limiting detections with unclear details. Consequently, there might be chances for false alarms or even missing cancer symptoms.
  • Digital mammography: To record images of the breast, digital mammography substitutes standard X-ray film with a digital chip. Full-field digital mammography might also be commonly referred to as digital mammography. This technique allows diagnostic breast images to be seen on a computer display or printed on a special film, resembling traditional mammography. Faster image acquisition times, fewer total exposures, and reduced patient pain are all advantages of digital mammography. Reportedly, digital mammography might provide superior accuracy over traditional methods for detecting breast cancer. This might, however, be true for women under 50, with thick breasts, and those who are premenopausal.
  • 3D mammography: A newer form of digital mammography where X-rays are used to obtain breast imagery in the form of thinner slices through varying angles. These are then stitched together using relevant software to create 3D diagnostic visuals. This revolutionary 3D Tomosynthesis technology mammography is a breakthrough procedure that helps your doctor to better detect malignant lumps or tissues. The features of the breast are viewed in one flat picture in standard mammography. The breast may be examined in layers using 3D mammography, helping the radiologist to interpret the pictures more correctly.

The use of 3D mammography has been shown to minimize false-positive callbacks and improve the accuracy of early breast cancer detection. It is preferable for females with thicker breast tissues as these appear similarly white to cancer on mammography. In doing so, a radiologist can better distinguish the two by investigating breasts in layers. There is no need for extra compression, although each view might take seconds longer than 2D mammography. However, as compared to 2D mammograms, this process can be a little costlier.

Digital mammography is projected to become increasingly popular in the future. In the meantime, talk to your doctor about which form of mammography is appropriate for you. You and your doctor can work together to find out where digital mammography is offered in your region if your doctor advises it or if you desire it. You should also make sure that your insurance plan covers this form of screening.