What is a Mammography?
A mammogram is a special x-ray of the breast. It is a radio-logical procedure available to detect small cancers long before they can be felt by you or your doctor. As the x-rays pass through the breast tissue, an actual picture of the tissue inside is obtained. This image allows the radiologist to determine whether or not cancer is present. If you are not having any breast problems, you will be scheduled for a screening mammogram. If you are having problems, then you should be scheduled for a diagnostic mammogram.
Common uses of this procedure.
Mammography is used to diagnose breast diseases in women. The use of screening mammography can assist in the detection of disease even if you have no complaints or symptoms.
While the AMA and ACR recommend that women aged 40 and older get annual mammograms, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) says women who are at increased risk due to a genetic history of breast cancer, or who have had breast cancer, may need to get mammograms at an earlier age.
The following are suggested guidelines:
- Between the ages of 35 and 40
- A woman should have a baseline mammogram
- Between the ages of 40 and 50
- A woman should have a mammogram once every one or two years
- After the age of 50
- A woman should have the mammogram every year
How does it work?
The breast is exposed to a small dose of radiation to produce an image of internal breast tissue. The image of the breast is produced as a result of some of the x-rays being absorbed (attenuation) while others pass through the breast to expose the film. The exposed film is either
placed in a developing machine, producing images much like the negatives from a 35-mm camera, or images are digitally stored on computer