Mammography is a specific type of imaging that uses a low-dose x-ray system to examine breasts. 3-D mammography is 41 percent better at detecting invasive breast cancers.Traditional digital mammography takes two-dimensional pictures of the breast, butrather than viewing the breast tissue in 2-D images, radiologists can examine the tissue one thin layer at a time, in a sense traveling through the structure of the breast like flipping pages of a book. Fine details are more visible and are less likely to be hidden by overlapping tissue.
Mammography plays a central part in early detection of breast cancers because it can show changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or physician can feel them. Current guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the American Cancer Society (ACS), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the American College of Radiology (ACR) recommend a screening mammogram every year for women, beginning at age 40. Research has shown that annual mammograms lead to early detection of breast cancers when they are most curable and breast-conservation therapies are available.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) adds that women who have had breast cancer and those who are at increased risk due to a genetic history of breast cancer should seek expert medical advice about whether they should begin screening before age 40 and about the frequency of screening.
Early detection makes a difference.
All women can get breast cancer, even those with no family history of the disease.
Statistics provided by the American College of Radiology suggest:
- 40is the age at which women should start getting annual mammograms.
- There has been a 37 percent reduction in breast cancer deaths since mammography screening became widespread in 1990.
- 1 in 6breast cancers occurs in women ages 40-49.
- 3 of 4women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease or other factors that put them at risk.