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Mammography is the most important tool in the diagnosis of breast cancer. Digital mammography captures images electronically, transferring images to a computer so they can be electronically enhanced. Digital mammography offers several advantages:
- Images are higher resolution, and your doctor has the ability to enhance certain areas for increased detail.
- A digital mammogram usually takes less than half the time of a traditional film-based exam, and there’s less chance that you’ll be called back to retake your images.
- Digital images provide better visibility of the breast, particularly near the skin line, chest wall and in women with dense breast tissue.
- Digital images are helpful for women with implants and for patients with known breast abnormalities.
Additionally, digital images can be viewed on workstations anywhere in the world allowing physicians to compare current images to past mammograms.
How long will my digital mammogram take?
A digital mammogram takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Compression and positioning of the breasts are the same as with traditional mammography but result in less waiting time and far fewer repeat exams. Your technician will know right away if the image positioning is correct.
Does a digital mammogram involve any radiation?
The amount of radiation you’ll receive is approximately the same as with a traditional film mammogram, but may be less if you have very dense breast tissue.
Is there anything I can do to prepare for the exam?
It’s best not to wear deodorant or powder the day of your exam since it could affect the image. Also, wear a two-piece outfit because you’ll need to undress from the waist up. Schedule your mammogram shortly after the end of your period to ease any discomfort.
How accurate is a mammogram in detecting breast cancer?
A mammogram can identify a lump up to two years before it will become large enough for you to feel it. While mammograms don’t prevent breast cancer, they can help a doctor find it much earlier while it is more treatable. When breast cancer is found early, the five-year survival rate is greater than 95 percent. Additionally, finding breast cancer early enables more women to select treatment options that allow them to keep their breasts.
Like many medical exams, mammograms are not 100 percent accurate, but they are the best imaging method available today for detecting breast cancer early. Mammograms should be part of a comprehensive routine for checking for breast cancer that also includes monthly breast self exams and annual clinical exams by your doctor.
For more information or to make an appointment call 407.331.9355.