Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women. Each year in the United States, 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and about 20 percent will not survive the deadly disease. The majority of fatal breast cancer cases occur when it is not caught early enough and spreads, or metastasizes, to other parts of the body.
Breast cancer is highly treatable with early detection; this is why women aged 45-54 should have annual mammograms, and women 55 and older should have mammograms every other year.
A mammogram is a radiological imaging exam wherein the breasts are each compressed, one at a time, between two glass plates, and x-rays are passed through the breast tissue. This produces images that capture breast tissue anomalies or areas of concern.
Traditional film mammography involves printing these images on large, black and white film for our doctors to examine. In recent years, however, digital mammography has become more widely available as imaging technology is becoming more sophisticated. The images captured during a digital mammogram are stored electronically and viewed on a monitor, rather than having to be printed.
A 2005 study of 50,000 women showed that digital mammography is a better screening tool for women that met the three following criteria: under age 50, with dense breast tissue, and still menstruating or perimenopausal, having had a period within the previous 12 months.
Digital mammography offers many benefits over traditional film mammography:
- Digital imaging is faster. While most women do not experience extreme discomfort during a mammogram, breast compression can be painful for some. Shorter imaging times means less time spent in pain.
- Digital mammogram results are available immediately. Without having to wait for film to be developed, the process is expedited, as the doctor can view the results while the exam is being performed.
- Digital images can be reviewed more thoroughly, which may allow for earlier detection. Because the images are viewed through a computer screen, they can be manipulated to enlarge or focus in on specific areas. We are able to increase or decrease contrast to help decipher normal breast tissue from anything that may be abnormal, and our radiologists can now use computer-aided detection (CAD), which automatically highlights any areas of concern. All of these factors combine to help use better detect tumors at an earlier stage.
- Electronic records can be shared easily. Digital mammogram results can instantly be linked to your electronic medical records, making your results available for other providers to use as needed.
- Digital mammograms expose patients to about one-quarter less radiation than traditional film mammograms. While the amount of radiation exposure during film mammography is very small and considered a very safe amount, digital mammograms expose patients to even less.
Digital mammograms save patients time and discomfort and offer exceptional convenience for healthcare providers in performing the exams as well as reviewing and storing the results. Here at Independent Imaging, we now offer digital mammography with CAD at all three of our locations–Wellington, Lake Worth, and Belle Glade. Call us (561) 795-5558 or request an appointment online.
Remember, with breast cancer, early detection is key. Don’t put off having a mammogram any longer – schedule an appointment with one of our highly qualified radiologists today!