Digital mammography is one of the most recent advances in x-ray mammography. It has redefined the way healthcare is delivered and provides a new option in breast health. Most medical experts agree that successful treatment of breast cancer often is linked to early diagnosis. Digital mammography plays a central part in early detection as it can show changes in the breast up to two years before a patient can feel them. With Digital mammography the radiation exposure is up to 50% less than a standard mammogram and with the new flex paddles the exam is said to be pain free. The difference between Digital and standard mammography is sometimes compared to a Digital Camera and a camera using regular film. With a digital camera, you put the images into a computer and are able to lighten, darken or even magnify the images and with a regular camera you have film that is converted into a picture (hard copy), but the ability to adjust the image is difficult. With the ability to manipulate the image of the breast, the radiologist can more clearly see an area in question and give the best diagnosis available. The American Cancer guidelines advise women 40 and older to have a regular annual screening. For women at high risk the guidelines advise discussing with your healthcare provider if additional testing is needed.
Preparing for a Mammogram
Wear a blouse or shirt that can be easily removed since you will need to undress from the waist up into a gown provided. You should not use any type of powders, deodorant, lotion or perfumes prior to your exam as they can affect the quality of your images. Before the exam you may be asked to fill out a short medical breast history questionnaire. Apart from the questionnaire, be sure to inform the technologist of any breast implants, scars or moles on or near your breasts, past breast biopsy, surgery or if you are breast feeding.