Q. What is Digital Mammography?
Direct Digital Mammography is the newest and most advanced breast imaging currently available.
As with a digital camera, this advanced technology eliminates the need for X-ray film or an imaging plate. This translates into the radiologist having faster and clearer images with more detailed resolution.
There are two types of Digital Mammography equipment: Direct Digital Radiography (DDR) and Computed Radiography (CR). While DDR is much more expensive than CR, it has many advantages and Capital Imaging Associates is proud to offer DDR to the community.
Q. What are the common uses of digital mammography?
The most common use of mammography is for the early detection of breast cancer. Although, most lumps or masses found in the breast are not cancerous, early detection of breast malignancies can significantly improve the chance of successful treatment.
Q. What is a screening and diagnostic digital mammography?
Screening digital mammography is an X-ray examination of the breast used to detect breast changes in women who have no signs or symptoms of disease.
Diagnostic digital mammography is an X-ray examination of the breast in women who have a personal history of breast cancer or for women who have signs or symptoms of disease- examples are lumps, pain, thickening, nipple discharge or a change in breast size or shape.
Q. Is mammography safe?
Mammography is very safe. Although is involves X-rays, the radiation exposure is minimal. To put the risk into perspective, the American Cancer Society explains it in this way; “a woman who receives radiation as a treatment for breast cancer will receive several thousand rads. If a woman has yearly mammograms, beginning at age 40 and continues until age 90 (50 years of mammograms) she will have received only 20-40 rads.”
Q. Is a mammogram painful?
Our system is unique in that it has built in biofeedback features which sense breast thickness and delivers the minimal amount of compression and radiation needed for the exam. This results in a “softer” compression, maximizing patient comfort. We also offer the use of mammography comfort pads which considerably reduces the level of discomfort. If at any time you experience too much discomfort during your exam please inform your technologist so she can readjust your position, making the exam more comfortable.
Q. Is the any preparation required for a mammogram?
You will be required to refrain from using any body powders, perfumes or deodorants the day of your exam. The reason for this is that these substances could mimic pathology on your mammogram images. If you have tender or cystic breasts we recommend refraining from caffeine products 2 days prior to your exam. Caffeine does not affect the images it’s only recommended that you refrain so you may have a more comfortable exam.
Q. What is breast density?
Breasts are made up of a mixture of fibrous tissue, glandular tissue and fatty tissue. Your breasts are considered dense if you have a lot of fibrous or glandular tissue but not much fat. Density may decrease with age, but there is little, if any, change in most women.
Q. How do I know if I have dense breasts?
Breast density is determined by the radiologist who reads your mammogram. There are four categories of mammographic density. The radiologist assigns each mammogram to one of the categories. Your doctor should be able to tell you whether you have dense breasts based on where you fall on the density scale.
Q. Why is breast density important?
Having dense breast tissue may increase your risk of getting breast cancer. Dense breasts also make it more difficult for doctors to spot cancer on mammograms. Dense tissue appears white on a mammogram. Lumps, both benign and cancerous, also appear white. So, mammograms can be less accurate in women with dense breasts.
Q. If I have dense breasts, do I still need a mammogram?
Yes. A mammogram is the only medical imaging screening test proven to reduce breast cancer deaths. Many cancers are seen on mammograms even if you have dense breast tissue.
Q. Are there any tests that are better than a mammogram for dense breasts?
In breasts that are dense, cancer can be hard to see on a mammogram. Studies have shown that ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can help find breast cancers that can’t be seen on a mammogram. However, both MRI and ultrasound, show more findings that are not cancer, which can result in added testing and unnecessary biopsies. Also, the cost of ultrasound and MRI may not be covered by insurance, the only way to be certain would be to contact your insurance company.
Q. What should I do if I have dense breasts? What if I don’t?
If you have dense breasts, please talk to you physician. Together, you can decide which, if any, additional screening exams are appropriate for you.
If your breasts are not dense, other factors may still place you at an increase risk for breast cancer-including a family history of the disease, previous chest radiation treatment for cancer and previous breast biopsies that show you are high risk. Talk to your doctor and discuss your history.
Even if you are at a low risk of developing breast cancer, and have entirely fatty breasts you should still get an annual mammogram starting at age 40. The best prevention is early detection.
DID YOU KNOW?
Our Mammomat Novation was the first Siemens Digital Mammography unit in the Albany, N.Y. area with features not found on other machines.
OPCOMP paddles sense resistance from your breast tissue, regulating the amount of compression used and Tungsten tube technology insures the most comfortable exam, fastest exposure and lowest X-ray dose in the industry.
GENERAL / EXAM INSTRUCTIONS
DAY of EXAM ... please DO NOT use:
If you wear a two-piece garment, you will not have to fully undress for your test.
Many patients find it more comfortable to refrain from caffeine products for 3 days prior to a mammogram.
DIGITAL MAMMOGRAPHY QUESTIONNAIRE (Please download, fill out and bring to your exam)