According to BreastCancer.org, an estimated 261,100 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and 39,840 women were expected to die from the disease. Mammography has shown to be the best screening tool to diagnose breast cancer, but recent media reports have highlighted differing opinions about when and how often mammography is recommended. The American Society of Breast Surgeons, among other respected medical organizations, publically supports annual screening mammography for women age 40 and older. For women who have had breast cancer, or who have a family history of breast cancer, mammograms may be recommended by their physician before age 40 or more than once a year.
A mammogram is a specific type of imaging using low-dose X-rays to examine the breasts, aiding in the early detection and diagnosis of breast abnormalities, diseases and breast cancer.
A mammogram is a non-invasive test that allows the radiologist a closer look for changes in breast tissue that cannot be felt
during a breast self-exam or a clinical exam by a physician or health care provider.
Mercy Medical Center uses digital mammogram technology, along with computer aided detections (CAD), which permits
a radiologist to look closely at the images to search for
hidden signs of breast abnormalities. Digital mammography
uses approximately one-third less radiation than traditional
“There are essentially two types of mammograms that are done – screening and diagnostic,” said Dr. Sandra Ruhs,
radiologist with Diagnostic Imaging Associates at Mercy Medical Center. “A screening mammogram is exactly as it implies. Screening mammography is for patients who are
asymptomatic. Routine screening mammograms are done yearly beginning at age 40. Diagnostic mammography is typically done for patients who may present with symptoms such as breast pain, a lump that is palpable, discharge or asymmetry of the breasts. A diagnostic mammogram may also be performed if the radiologist recommends additional imaging following a screening
mammogram. Occasionally an ultrasound may also be necessary.”
In addition to detecting breast cancer, mammograms can also detect macrocalcifications and microcalcifications – calcium deposits in the breast tissue. Macrocalcifications are large deposits, often caused by aging, and are not usually cancerous. Microcalcifications are tiny deposits of calcium that could
indicate the presence of breast cancer cells. Depending on
how many calcium deposits a person has, how big they are,
and what they look like, a doctor may suggest that a patient
has other tests. Calcium in a person’s diet does not cause macro- and microcalcifications.
Dr. Ruhs strongly recommends screening mammograms starting at age 40. “Every woman is at risk for breast cancer, and mammography is the best available tool to detect breast cancer early, when it is the most treatable.”
Schedule today. To schedule a mammogram, or for more
information, please call 515-247-4444.