Mammography has reduced breast cancer mortality rates by 1/3 in the United States since 1990
1 in 6 breast cancers occur in women between the ages of 40 and 49
3/4 of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history and are not considered "high risk"
What is a Mammogram?
Mammography is an important step in taking care of yourself and your breast. A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast that's used to find breast changes. This specific type of breast exam is used to also aid in the early detection and diagnosis of breast diseases in women. This quick medical exam uses a noninvasive X-ray targeted to each breast, producing pictures that your doctor can use to identify and treat any abnormal areas, possibly indicating the presence of cancer
Why is everyone talking about Mammograms?
Annual mammograms can detect cancer early - when it is most treatable. In fact, mammograms show changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or physician can feel them. Mammograms can also prevent the need for extensive treatment for advanced cancers and improve chances of breast conservation. Current guidelines from the American College of Radiology, the American Cancer Society, and the Society for Breast Imaging recommend that women receive annual mammograms starting at age 40 - even if they have no symptoms or family history of breast cancer.
Screening Guidelines for Breast Health
Yearly mammograms at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health
Clincal breast exam (CBE) every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over
Breast self-exam (BSE) for women starting in their 20s
Screening mammograms are not recommended for average risk women under age 40
Women with implants have screening mammograms at age 40 and continue as long as a woman is in good health
Women who are at high risk of breast cancer (due to a gene mutation, a strong family history, or previous radiation to the chest for cancer) should have a discussion with their health care provider, taking into account personal circumstances and preferences.
What is a Screening Mammogram?
Screening mammograms are x-ray exams of the breast that are used for women who have no breast symptoms or signs of breast cancer (such as previous abnormal mammogram). The goal of a screening mammogram is to find breast cancer when it is too small to be felt by a women or her doctor. A screening mammogram usually takes 2 x-ray pictures (views) of each breast. Some women, such as those with large breast, may need to have more pictures to see as much breast tissues as possible. We have a dedicated mammography radiologist that interprets the mammogram within 24-48 hours to determine if there are any suspicious areas.
For every 1,000 women who have a screening mammogram:
100 are recalled to get more mammography or ultrasound
images, may times based on the type of tissue
20 are recommended for a needle biopsy
5 are diagnosed with breast cancer
Whats New? 3D Tomosynthesis Mammography
Conventional digital mammography produces one image of overlapping tissue, making it difficult to detect cancers. Performed with digital mammography using the same scanner, breast tomosynthesis takes multiple images of the entire breast. The X-ray tube moves in an arc around the breast while 11 images are taken during a 7-second examination. Then the information is sent to a computer, where it is assembled to produce clear, highly focused 3-dimensional images throughout the breast. It allows the radiologists to see through layers of tissue and examine areas of concern from all angles. Benefits can include:
Earlier detection of small breast cancers that may be hidden during digital mammography
Greater accuracy in pinpointing size, shape and location of abnormalities
Fewer unnecessary biopsies or additional tests
Greater likelihood of detecting multiple breast tumors, which occur in 15% of breast cancer patients
Tomosynthesis is safe. Radiation exporsure to the breast is very low. The radiation dose for a combined 2D/3D mammography exam is well below the acceptable limits defined by the FDA, and is only a fraction of the level of radiation everyone receives annually from the natural background of being outdoors. There is no evidence that this low level of radiation has any significant effect on the breasts. As with any x-ray, patients should inform their technologist before an exam if they are (or may be) pregnant.
When to schedule your mammogram
It is best to schedule your mammogram about a week after your menstrual period. Your breast won't be as tender or swollen, which means less discomfort during the x-ray. OCWMG offers same day mammogram screening after your annual exam.
What (and what not) to wear
Wear a 2-piece outfit because you will need to remove your top and bra. Do not apply deodorant, antiperspirant, powder, lotion, or ointment on or around your chest on the day of your mammogram. These products can appear as white spots on the x-ray.
Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and almost all private insurance plans now cover yearly mammograms, with no-copay or out-of-pocket cost. In regards to 3D Tomosynthesis Mammography the FDA has approved but most insurances are not yet reimbursing for this exam. This does not mean your screening mammogram will not be covered by your insurance. There is a possibility that the 3D portion may not be covered. If you receive a bill please go to our Resources page for billing information.