Mastography called Mammography is the process to detect breast cancer by using low-energy X-rays (usually around 30 kVp) to examine the human breast, this method is used as a diagnostic and screening tool. typically through detection of characteristic masses and/or microcalcifications.
Types of Mammogrphy
There are two types of Mammography
1-Film Screen Mammography
2-Digital Mammography (FFDM)
Techniques for perfoming Film screen Mammography and digigtal mammography is same , the only difference is that whether the images take the form of photographic films or of digital files recorded directly onto a computer.
Film-screen vs. digital
Diagnostic mammography is performed in women who present with breast symptoms such as nipple discharge or focal pain, who have abnormal clinical findings such as palpable lump, or who have mammographic abnormalities detected on a screening study. It is performed under the direct supervision of a radiologist who chooses different additional views to further demonstrate the morphology of the lesion and decides whether ultrasound also needs to be used. Additional views include cleavage view, tangential view, and rolled view.
If you’ve had a film-screen mammogram, the images will be in black and white on large sheets of film. With digital mammography, the images are recorded directly into a computer. The image can then be viewed on a computer screen and specific areas can be enlarged or highlighted. If there is a suspicious area, your doctors can use the computer to take a closer look. The images also can be transmitted electronically from one location to another.
Many studies have shown that film-screen and digital mammography are equally accurate in screening for breast cancer. One 2005 study of nearly 50,000 women, the Digital Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial (DMIST), found that digital mammography was a better screening tool than film-screen mammography only for women who either:
- are under age 50
- have very dense or extremely dense breast tissue
- are still menstruating or are perimenopausal (starting menopause), but have had a period within the previous 12 months
If you fall into any one of these three categories, talk to your doctor about having digital mammography. If you’re not sure whether or not you have dense breast tissue, your doctor can help — usually by looking at previous mammograms you may have had.
The other advantages of digital mammography versus film-screen are that
(1) digital images can be manipulated for better views and they can be stored more easily, and
(2) digital mammograms deliver about three-fourths of the radiation that film-screen mammograms do (although film-screen mammograms deliver a safe and very small amount of radiation).
The disadvantages of digital mammography are that it is more expensive and not as widely available as film-screen mammography.
In the future, it’s expected that digital mammography will become more common. In the meantime, you can speak with your doctor about which type of mammography is best for your individual situation. If your doctor recommends digital mammography, or you want to have it, you can work together to determine where it is available in your area.
Many imaging centers are now in the process of switching over from traditional film mammography to digital mammography. According to an April 2008 article in the New York Times, this is causing a temporary increase in the number of women who are getting called back for additional testing. As radiologists get used to reading the digital images — especially for a woman who has always had films done — they may be more likely to call a woman back to take more views of potentially suspicious areas. Be aware of this if you make the switch from film mammography to digital mammography, and try not to worry prematurely if you get called back.
If you do not have access to digital mammography, you should still have film-screen mammography as you normally would.