A mammogram is a tool used in the detection of breast cancer. Mammography is a specific type of imaging that uses a low-dose X-ray system to examine breast tissue. We use mammography as a screening tool to identify tumors or abnormal tissue in the breast. There are three types of mammography: digital mammography, computer-aided detection and breast tomosynthesis.
Mammography captures sharp, digital images of the breasts. Once the digital images are obtained and transmitted to a high-tech, digital mammography machine, our radiologists analyze the images to determine the precise location and extent of the disease.
A mammography is an X-ray exam that may also identify breast changes and locate tumors that are too small or too deep to be detected with a breast examination. For women experiencing symptoms such as a lump, pain, skin dimpling or nipple discharge, a mammogram may determine whether the side effects are a result of cancer or another disorder.
Mammography is an important tool in the early detection of breast cancers because it may show changes in the breast months or years before a patient can feel them. Current guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the American College of Radiology (ACR) recommend mammography screening every year for women, beginning at the age of 40.
How it works
The mammography unit is designed to accommodate virtually any size breast, large or small. During a mammogram, the breasts are compressed, one at a time, between two firm surfaces that flatten the breast tissue for easier imaging. Some patients may experience mild discomfort depending on the sensitivity of their breasts, but the pressure lasts only a few seconds. Multiple images of the breast are taken with X-ray technology, and the images are displayed on a computer screen and examined for signs of cancer.
If an abnormality is detected, it may or may not require treatment. Your doctor may recommend further tests, such as an ultrasound or MRI. If the radiologist believes that the abnormality needs further study, a biopsy may be performed to determine if the mass is cancerous.
Learn more about breast cancer diagnostics