Breast Health: Screening for Breast Cancer

Mammograms are equally important for women who have no symptoms as they are for those who are experiencing symptoms, including lumps, pain, or nipple discharge. Research shows that annual mammograms can help detect breast cancers early, when they are most curable, and it is possible to use breast-conserving therapies. Screening mammography can show changes in the breast up to 2 years before a patient or physician can feel them. For this reason, it is an excellent way for women to stay on top of their breast health. Current guidelines recommend screening mammography every year for women aged 50 years or more, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Women ages 40-49 and those are at increased risk of breast cancer, should discuss the benefits and risks of screening with their health care provider

Types of Mammograms

Recent advances in mammography include digital mammography, three-dimensional mammography, and computer-aided detection.

Digital (or full-field digital) mammography converts X-rays into electrical signals that are used to produce digital breast images.  These images can be enhanced, magnified, or manipulated on a computer screen for further evaluation.

Three-dimensional mammography, also known as breast tomosynthesis, uses X-rays to capture multiple images of the breast. By creating a three-dimensional view, it helps identify and locate breast structures and or abnormalities. It also reduces the number of times women are called back for additional imaging.

Computer-aided detection (CAD) uses digitized mammography image from a conventional or digital mammogram. The computer then searches for and highlights abnormalities, including dense or calcified tissue that might indicate cancer.

“There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to breast cancer screening,” said Erin M. Walling, MD, FACS, a board-certified breast surgeon with Summit Medical Group Oregon. “Because each woman has a unique personal and family medical history, she should discuss what’s right for her with her doctor.”

For more information or to schedule a mammogram call 541-382-4900.