Know the Basics
Mammography uses computers and specially designed digital detectors to produce detailed X-ray images of breast tissue. The purpose of mammography is to identify breast cancer early in its development when it is still very small, often years before it is large enough to be felt as a lump. Small cancers often require less aggressive treatment and have the best chance for long term survival.
Tomosynthesis “3D” mammography takes multiple x-ray images of the compressed breast using different projections and from this data reconstructs multiple stacked thin images representing the whole breast volume. These can be viewed one after another, allowing the whole breast to be examined slice by slice, similar to reading pages in a book.
While mammography often detects breast cancer in its earliest stages, approximately 10% of palpable breast lumps that may be cancerous are not detected on mammography. In these cases, annual breast examination by your doctor or healthcare provider and monthly breast self-examination are critical for early detection.
Do I need a Mammogram?
The American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology have developed guidelines shown in the table below. Over 90% of breast cancers can be detected when all three methods are used together in a planned program. The following recommendations are for women who are considered average risk for developing breast cancer.
|Age||Breast Self-Exam||Mammography||Physical Exam|
|20-40||Once a month, 7-10 days after onset of menstruation||Initial mammogram at age 40||At least every 3 years|
|40+||Once a month, 7-10 days after onset of menstruation||Every year||Every year|