Not all mammograms are the same. There are screening mammograms and diagnostic mammograms, and within those categories, there are specialized mammograms. Beaumont Breast Imaging Centers offer the leading-edge mammography options for both screening and diagnosing breast cancer.
A screening mammogram is an imaging test of the breast that uses X-ray technology to look for abnormalities or changes in breast tissue in women who do not have signs or symptoms of breast cancer. Most screening mammograms take two X-ray images of each breast. If it’s your first screening mammogram, it’s considered a baseline mammogram. The results of this test will be used to compare with future mammogram results to look for changes in your breast tissue. A screening mammogram may help detect breast tumors that cannot be felt during an annual exam or a monthly breast self-exam. To be eligible for a screening mammogram, your last mammogram should have been interpreted as negative. If the radiologists are following a probable benign finding in the breast on mammography, you are no longer eligible for a screening mammogram until that finding has been documented to be stable (usually 2-3 years).
A diagnostic mammogram uses X-ray technology to take images of breast tissue. It is used to help evaluate breast symptoms, like a lump, focal persistent breast pain, bloody nipple discharge, breast or nipple thickening, or changes in breast size, shape or skin color. Mammograms may also be used to evaluate potential abnormalities seen during a screening mammogram. Diagnostic mammograms usually focus on the affected breast (or breasts), and the number of images taken will depend on various factors. The study is individually tailored for each patient depending on the symptoms and findings.
The field of mammography is always improving as new technology is developed. Digital mammography technology has improved imaging capabilities. A digital mammography machine takes digital X-ray images of breast tissue that can be enhanced using computers. Digital mammogram images can be stored and transmitted electronically, which can be helpful in making mammography more accessible to women in remote areas.
Digital mammography (also called full-field digital mammography or FFDM) allows breast images to be manipulated to make visualizing breast tissue easier. For example, doctors can change things like the degree of magnification, brightness, or contrast to aid in visualization. These images can also be transmitted electronically, which is helpful in sharing medical records and sending images to experts from remote locations. Some studies have found FFDM to be more accurate in finding cancers in women younger than 50. Also, it has been found that women undergoing digital mammography do not have to return for additional studies as often as with standard mammography. All Beaumont Breast Imaging Centers have digital mammography machines.
3-D digital breast tomosynthesis
Digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) is a state-of-the-art 3-D breast imaging technology. Compared to standard digital mammography, which uses X-rays to take pictures of the breast from one angle, DBT takes a series of images from different angles, allowing the radiologist to scroll through the breast and look at individual slice pictures.
Research findings have shown digital breast tomosynthesis increases cancer detection rates by 20 to 40 percent, and the recall rate for screening patients is reduced by 25 to 30 percent.
While DBT has been shown benefits for all patients, it is especially beneficial for:
- individuals who are at high risk for breast cancer, either by genetic predisposition or by family/personal risk factors
- women who have dense breast tissue
- women who are undergoing their first mammogram
Call Beaumont at 800-328-8542 today to schedule your next mammogram at Beaumont.