Catherine Giess, MD Division Chief, Breast Imaging Network Director, Breast Imaging
A mammogram is an x-ray examination of the breast. It is used to detect breast disease in women who either have breast problems such as a lump, pain, or nipple discharge, and for women who have no breast complaints.
Mammography cannot prove that an abnormal area is cancer, but if it raises a significant suspicion of cancer, tissue will be removed for a biopsy. Tissue may be removed by needle or open surgical biopsy and examined under a microscope to determine if it is cancer.
Mammography has been used for about 40 years, and in the past 15 years technical advancements have improved both the technique and results. Today, dedicated equipment, used only for breast x-rays, produces studies that are high in quality but low in radiation dose. Radiation risks are considered to be negligible.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital breast imaging specialists are now using 3D mammography. Digital 3D mammography is also used in follow-up exams when there has been a suspicious finding on a previous mammogram. 3D mammography is currently offered at the Lee Bell Center for Breast Imaging.
Breast Cancer Screening: Understanding the Guidelines
Approximately one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. This post is designed to outline breast cancer screening guidelines.
Detecting subtle changes in early breast cancer can be very challenging. Studies have shown that radiologists specializing in breast imaging outperform non-specialist radiologists in detecting breast cancer.