Because our primary goal has always been to deliver the highest quality care to our patients, we have added digital mammography to our women’s health diagnostic services. We have chosen Siemens® Inspiration™ digital mammography systems because we believe that it offers the best technology available. Please call our office at 713-757-7416 to your schedule your annual mammogram.
Early Detection is the Key
Although there has been a decline in the rate of deaths from breast cancer in recent years, it is still the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer. Studies have shown that, when detected early, the chance for successful treatment of breast cancer is nearly 100%.
Methods for early detection of breast cancer include clinical examinations by a healthcare professional and mammography. In most cases, mammography can identify an abnormal breast mass as much as two years before it can be detected by touch.
Some physicians also recommend a monthly breast self-examination for all women beginning at the age of 20, following proper training by a qualified healthcare professional.
A New Ally in the Fight Against Breast Cancer Breast cancer will affect an average of one in eight women sometime in their lifetime. It is the second most common cause of cancer related deaths in women. Numerous studies prove that early detection is a vital component in the successful treatment of breast cancer.
Mammograms play a central part in the early detection of breast cancer because they can detect changes in the breast that may be early signs of cancer, but are too small or subtle to be felt. The use of mammography has greatly enhanced the ability to detect breast cancers at earlier stages. Now a new technology called full field digital mammography shows great promise in the fight against breast cancer.
What is a Mammogram?
A mammogram is an x-ray examination of the breasts, used to detect and diagnose breast diseases. Screening mammography is used as a preventive measure for women who have no symptoms of breast disease. A screening mammogram usually involves two views of each breast. Diagnostic
mammography involves additional views of the breast, and is used when an abnormality is found during screening, or in women who have breast complaints, such as a breast mass, nipple discharge, breast pain, or skin irritation. Mammography is a very safe procedure that uses low doses of radiation to produce high-quality x-rays.
Are There Different Kinds of Mammograms?
Two kinds of mammograms are available;
- Screen-film mammography
- Full field digital mammography
In screen-film mammography, x-ray beams are captured on a film cassette. The film is then developed, and a physician who specializes in the interpretation of x-rays and other types of diagnostic imaging studies, reviews the films on a high-intensity light box.
What is Full Field Digital Mammography?
Digital mammography uses computers and specially designed digital detectors to produce an image that can be displayed on a high-resolution computer monitor, and transmitted and stored just like computer files. From a patient’s point of view, having a digital mammogram is very much like having a conventional screenfilm mammogram. Both film-based and digital mammography use compression and x-rays to create clear images of the inside of the breast. During all mammography exams, the technologist positions the patient to image the breast from different angles and compresses the breast with a paddle to obtain optimal image quality.
Unlike film-based mammography, digital mammograms produce images that appear on the technologist’s monitor in a matter of seconds. There is no waiting for film to develop, which can mean a shorter time spent in the breast imaging suite.
The Benefits of Digital Mammography
Unlike other parts of the body, the breast is composed mainly of soft tissue. When breast tissue is x-rayed, it creates an image that looks something like a smoky haze, making it difficult to see tiny “spots,” called microcalcifications, and other subtle signs of early cancer.
With digital mammography, the radiologist reviews electronic images of the breast, using special highresolution monitors. The physician can adjust the brightness, change contrast, and zoom in for close ups of specific areas of interest. Being able to manipulate images is one of the main benefits of digital technology.
Another convenience of digital mammography over film-based systems is it can greatly reduce the need for retakes due to over or under exposure. This potentially saves additional time and reduces your exposure to x-rays.
Because they are electronic, digital mammography images can be transmitted quickly across a network. Digital images can also be easily stored, copied without any loss of information, and transmitted and received in a more streamlined manner, eliminating dependence on only one set of “original” films.
Who Should Have Mammograms?
The American Cancer Society recommends that all women have a baseline screening mammogram between the age of 35 and 40 and that beginning at the age of 40, women have an annual screening mammogram. In addition to annual screening for women 40 and older, women with certain risk factors should discuss an appropriate screening program with their physician.
Risk Factors For Breast Cancer
Some of the known risk factors for breast cancer include:
- family or personal history of breast cancer
- early menstrual onset/late onset menopause
- use of oral contraceptives
- use of hormone replacement therapy
- alcohol use (2 or more drinks/day)
How Should I Prepare for a Mammogram?
If you have had mammograms in different facilities, call those facilities in advance and arrange to have your previous mammograms, reports and any other treatment reports forwarded. Do not wear deodorant, powder or cream under your arms it may interfere with the quality of your mammogram.
How is Mammography Performed?
You will need to undress above the waist for this procedure. You will be given a wrap to wear during the mammogram. You and a breast imaging technologist will be the only ones present during the mammogram. The technologist will position each breast, one at a time, on the mammography equipment. The breast will then be compressed, and the x-ray will be taken, each x-ray will appear on the technologist’s computer screen, and she will be able to make sure each image shows the right view before positioning you for the next x-ray. The entire procedure should take about 20 minutes.
Are Mammograms Painful?
Breast compression may cause some discomfort for a brief time during each x-ray, but it should not be painful. Breast compression helps obtain better x-rays by:
- Flattening the breast so that the maximum amount of tissue can be examined.
- Allowing a lower x-ray dose to be used, since the x-ray beams pass through a thinner amount of tissue
- Holding the breast in place to prevent blurring caused by motion.
If you have sensitive breasts, schedule your mammogram at a time of the month when your breasts will be less tender. In general, the week after a period is when breasts are less tender.