What is a Mammography?
Mammograms have long been considered the ultimate tool in breast cancer detection. It is generally recommended that women over the age of 40 have annual mammograms, while women with a family or personal history of certain cancers may be advised by their doctor to begin those screenings earlier.
Digital mammography is simply the next generation of mammography. This upgrade to the previous technology allows radiologists to take and manipulate multiple images so that a higher contrast can be achieved and masses can be better identified. At Medstar Radiology Network, we rely on digital mammography to assist in earlier breast cancer detection.
From the patient perspective, digital mammography works in much the same way as traditional mammography. Patients are asked to remove clothing from above the waist, and the breasts are then positioned between two plates that flatten and compress the tissue as images are taken from all sides. Some patients report mild to moderate discomfort during the imaging process, but the test itself typically takes no more than 20 minutes to complete. While digital mammography is not used in the actual treatment of cancer, it is a key tool in the early detection of breast cancer, which has the potential to improve treatment success rates.
Preparing for a Mammography
The only preparation a patient needs to engage in prior to a digital mammography is arriving on time and following technician instructions for breast placement in the mammography machine. Digital mammography does emit a small level of radiation, so patients who are pregnant or suspect they may be pregnant should discuss concerns with their doctor prior to the procedure.