Everything You Need to Know About Mammography

Mammography is a medical imaging technique used for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. It is most commonly used for breast cancer screening, but it can also be used to detect and evaluate other conditions of the female reproductive system, including fibroadenomas, cysts and tumors. Mammography is one of the most precise diagnostic techniques available because it produces high-resolution images comparable to those obtained through direct examination by a radiologist.

What Does Mammography Entail?

Mammograms use low-dose x-rays to generate two-dimensional and 3-dimensional images that can be interpreted by a radiologist or other trained health professional. The images may be viewed on a computer monitor or printed on photographic film, which can then be examined with special viewing equipment called a stereoscope or by an expert trained in interpreting them without special equipment.

The radiologist or other health professional who interprets the mammograms will look for signs of abnormal tissue growth, such as masses, microcalcifications, and architectural distortion, such as asymmetry or displacement. If abnormalities are found, additional imaging tests such as ultrasound or MRI may be ordered to examine the area further and determine if there is any evidence of involvement in lymph nodes.

What is the Importance of Mammography Training?

Helps medical students to learn how to detect breast cancer at an early stage

Mammography is a powerful diagnostic tool that detects breast cancer early when it’s the most treatable. But to be effective, the exam requires proper mammography initial training and expertise. Trainers lead students through a series of simulated patients, each with different characteristics and conditions that students must identify as they perform their diagnostic workup. 

Improve competency among examiners 

With this experience, students will finally be ready to use their skills on real patients in the field who rely on them for accurate results. Not only does this type of training ensure that examiners are competent in the art of mammography, but it also helps them develop their skills to be effective communicators, building trust and confidence with every patient they screen. 

Teach students how to communicate effectively during appointments

In addition to teaching students how to perform the procedure and interpret results, mammography training teaches them how to communicate effectively during appointments. To do this, trainers provide role-playing sessions that familiarize students with the emotional and social aspects of patients’ experiences, including their concerns about diagnosis and treatment. This builds empathy and makes trainees more responsive to patients’ needs.

How Does Mammography Benefit Patients?

Help identify breast cancer at an early stage

Early detection is key to surviving breast cancer. Many women in their 20s and 30s have dense breast tissue, which can obscure tumors on mammograms, making it difficult to detect cancerous tumors before they spread. Breast MRIs are not typically used for routine screening of women with dense breasts. Mammography, however, is the gold standard for breast cancer screening. It’s fast and painless, and experts recommend regular screenings for women beginning at age 40.

It is fast

Mammography also requires far less time than traditional methods because even though it may seem like you’re spending an hour in the waiting room, you’re actually only being exposed to radiation for about 15 seconds. Most healthcare providers welcome this new technology because it means they can spend more time treating patients than performing tests. You often don’t even have to wait until the next day or week to see the results. Most facilities can get you the results on the spot or within 24 hours.

Reduce the risk of having to undergo chemotherapy

Mammography can reduce the risk of undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy by as much as 50% by finding tumors earlier when they are easier and less invasive to treat.

Help reduce cancer-related deaths

According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetimes. One in four of these women will die from the disease. Due to this high mortality rate, the American Cancer Society recommends that all women over 40 receive annual mammograms. This helps doctors identify any signs of breast cancer early when it is more treatable and less likely to spread to other body parts.

Key Takeaway

Mammography is a breast cancer screening method that uses low-dose x-rays to detect tumors. The x-rays are taken from multiple angles, and a radiologist reviews the resulting images. Mammograms can also be used to monitor the progress of existing tumors or monitor specific areas of the breast for suspicious signs.