Women’s Imaging - Ahead of the Curve
NEW SmartCurve™ Mammography at MedStar Radiology Network provides a curved compression surface that offers a more comfortable patient experience without compromising image quality.
- Curved surface mirrors breast shape
- Uniform compression minimizes pressure points and pinching
- Exceptional image quality with 3D mammography technology
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.
FAQs about Dense Breast Tissue
Dense breast tissue is not abnormal. Fifty percent of women will fall into one of two categories, heterogeneously dense or extremely dense. The determination of density is a qualitative visual assessment performed by the radiologist.
Breast density is not a major cancer risk factor. However, the sensitivity to mammography is reduced as density increases making it harder to identify breast abnormalities. A risk assessment is a good starting point in the discussion with your doctor about whether supplemental tests will be beneficial.
Yes. Mammography is the only screening tool proven to lower breast cancer mortality. Mammography is the only test available that reliably detects suspicious calcifications. Such calcifications are often the first sign of in-situ cancers, which coexist with otherwise invisible invasive cancers. Other options are available, but should be considered in addition to regular screening mammography.
The Federal Food and Drug Administration requires mammography facilities to report final results to patients by letter within 30 days of testing, pending the arrival date of comparison images.
MedStar Radiology Network includes the specific breast density in these physician report and those results should be discussed with your physician.
We encourage patients to talk with their doctor about breast density, along with any findings and family history to determine their best testing options.
Among the additional tests that are available, breast MRI, breast ultrasound, and 3D breast tomosynthesis are impacted less by breast density in their ability to detect cancer than 2D mammography alone.
In high risk women, supplemental screening tests are recommended in addition to mammography. Studies support the use of MRI in women who are known to have a very high risk (>20% lifetime or >5% 10-year) of breast cancer, regardless of breast density. Screening breast MRI is typically covered by insurance for high-risk women only.
Meet Our Radiologist
Brooke Wolvin, MD
Assistant Director and Breast Imaging Radiologist
Associate Director of Breast Imaging and Director of Breast MRI at MedStar Washington Hospital Center
Medical School: New York Medical College
Residency: New York Presbyterian Hospital Cornell Campus.
Fellowship: Breast imaging from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Jennifer Flaim, DO
Medical Director, MRN
Medical school: West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
Residency: Grandview Hospital
Fellowship: Diagnostic Radiology from the University of Maryland Hospital