Both men and women tend to have their own unique wellness tests that are such an important part of life, that it can sometimes mean life or death. For women, the importance of scheduling mammogram imaging, and the benefits and peace of mind that comes with it, has proven to be very substantial. Cancer, and specifically breast cancer in this case, is one of those killers that shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially if there is a proven test to help diagnose or rule it out before it becomes out of hand.
Much like regular X-rays, there are more modern and effective ways for mammogram imaging to be accomplished. Many people however, do not really understand the difference between digital mammograms and more traditional film mammogram. Simply put, any kind of mammogram is a form of X-ray of the breast tissue. The main difference is that older systems rely on film and digital images are processed and viewed on a computer.
Digital mammograms are quicker to access, and easier to view. The radiologist can highlight areas, zoom in and out, and use specific filters to gain a more accurate view of the breast in many instances.
Benefits of Digital Mammography Include:
- Mammograms printed on film required hard files that were stored with your medical history. Digital mammography is stored on a computer and can be easily shared electronically, allowing providers to share necessary data in order to improve your care.
- Digital mammography uses ¼ less radiation than its older counterpart. While the earlier doses have proven to cause no harm, less is generally better.
- Lastly, the doctors and radiologists can observe more due to better picture clarity and the ability to alter the photos. Our exceptional radiologists can lighten, darken, and enlarge these images – almost like an app on your phone. This makes detecting abnormal changes much more accurate in some cases.
Patients should understand that digital mammograms may create a few more false positives because of the nature of the testing itself. If you think of a cancer screening such as a mammogram as a fishing net, you can easily imagine that the finer the weave, the more fish get caught.
This means that the screening is going to pick up even the slightest of changes that may or may not be relevant. This is known as specificity. Having a high specificity means that more things can get caught up in the net. Specificity is always a balancing act, in that it obviously picks up more, but not all of it is actually important.
So why set it so high? Because even though it catches many little things that are not really important, digital mammography also catches small changes that could be early signs of breast cancer. As with any cancer, the earlier it is caught, the better. Saving lives is worth the occasional false positive.
When is Digital Mammography Recommended?
As a rule of thumb, digital mammograms are often recommended for patients with denser breast tissue. It may also be superior for women who have not yet entered menopause or those who are under the age of 50.
Have a question? Ask our compassionate and trained medical staff at Independent Imaging. Call (561) 795-5558 today, or go online to make an appointment that could save your life. Our board-certified radiologists are ready and waiting in the Lake Worth, Wellington, Belle Glade, or Royal Palm Beach areas. Allow us to explain how a digital mammogram can work for you.