Digital Screening Mammography is essential to the early detection of breast cancer because it can reveal breast tissue abnormalities up to two years before a patient or physician can feel them. Major health organizations recommend regular, once-a-year mammograms for all women, beginning at age 40*. Monthly self breast exams are suggested for all women over the age of 20. Women between the age of 20 and 39 should have a clinical breast examination every three years.
Digital mammograms offer the highest-quality images, giving radiologists a crisp, clear view of the breast. Unlike traditional film mammograms, a digital mammogram can be lightened or darkened to provide the best possible view of breast tissue. The radiation dose for digital mammograms to patients is also lower than traditional mammograms. Digital screening mammograms are especially good at early detection for women who:
* The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The American Cancer Society, the American Medical Association and the American College of Radiology.
At the Breast Center at Randolph Hospital, we are committed to providing you with quality care, and the most accurate information and educational materials to help you make the best decisions for your health.
During a screening mammogram, a qualified technologist will position your breast on the machine and apply compression from the machine. The compression spreads out the breast tissue so that all of the tissue appears in the mammogram and avoids hiding potential abnormalities. You should expect to feel pressure from the compression and women who have sensitive breasts may feel discomfort. It is recommended that the exam be scheduled when your breasts are least tender, generally one week after your period. Avoid the week before your period, as breast tissue has increased sensitivity during this point in your cycle.
A self breast exam is an important tool in the early detection of breast cancer. Women should examine their breasts regularly, not only to check for abnormalities, but also to gain understanding of how their breasts should normally feel. When you are familiar with your breasts you will be more likely to detect a change in them.
Keep in mind that your breasts are complex organs that change consistently throughout the month with the levels of hormones in your body. Therefore, they may feel differently at different points in your menstrual cycle, and you should try to perform your self breast exams at the same time each month. That's why you need to examine your breasts at a time when they are not tender or filled with fluid. This time varies depending on the stage of your life. For menstruating women, the last day of your period is ideal and gives you a physical reminder each month to perform your exam. Women who are past menopause or who are pregnant should examine their breasts on the same day each month. If you take hormone replacement that cycles off the medicine for a few days, perform your exam the day you resume your medication. Breast feeding mothers should check each breast when the milk has been expressed.