Mammography is the most proven means of detecting breast cancer at its earliest, most treatable stages. Having a mammogram may be the key to the successful treatment and cure of breast cancer, which claims more than 45,000 lives each year. Since 1990 screening mammography has reduced breast cancer deaths in the United States by 40%.
A mammogram is an x-ray picture that visualizes the internal structure of the breast. There are two types of mammograms: diagnostic and screening mammograms. A screening mammogram is used in the general population. It can find breast cancer that is too small for you, your doctor, or nurse to feel. A standard screening mammogram actually consists of 4 views of the breasts: a top view and an angled side view of each breast. Each is made using a special, low-radiation machine that is designed just for mammograms. The x-rays are examined by a radiologist who is trained to look for abnormalities in the breast tissue. Most of the mammograms performed here are done with tomosynthesis, sometimes called 3D mammography. This allows the radiologist to look at different portions of the breasts separately which helps find certain types of abnormalities.
The American College of Radiology, the American Cancer Society, and nearly a dozen other health care organizations have endorsed a set of guidelines for mammography screening. The present guidelines say that beginning at age 40 women without symptoms should have a mammogram every year. Three out of four women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history so all women should undergo screening, but some women have strong family histories. These women need to start screening earlier and benefit from additional types of screening including MRI. If you would like to calculate your risk based on your personal and family history a risk calculator is available at Tyrer-Cuzick Risk Calculator for Breast Cancer Risk Assessment | MagView. If your calculated lifetime risk is greater than 20% you should talk to your doctor about high risk screening.
Diagnostic mammography is different from screening mammography and is used to try to solve a problem such as characterizing a lump that you may have felt. If you have noticed something that you feel is abnormal or unusual about your breast then diagnostic mammography is the appropriate study for you.
We perform mammography, breast ultrasound, automated breast ultrasound for screening (as an adjunct to mammography), and breast MRI. We also perform ultrasound guided, mammographically (stereotactic) guided, and MRI guided minimally invasive biopsies to serve our patients.