Digital mammography – Highly Safe and Effective Screening Technology for Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Indian women. Studies show that one woman is getting diagnosed with breast cancer every 4 minutes. Despite being the most common cancer, it can be treated with positive clinical outcomes and excellent survival rates if detected early.
Screening methods like physical examination, ABVS and digital mammography support early detection of breast cancer and help patients have the best fighting chance against this disease.
Digital mammography is a highly safe, non-invasive and effective screening method for breast cancer.
Digital mammography uses low-dose radiation X-rays to capture the images of the breasts, and these images are later studied for the presence of any abnormalities such as benign and malignant tumours. The biggest difference between traditional mammography (film mammography) and digital mammography is that, during the latter, the image is captured and directly recorded onto a special computer and not on films.
How Does Digital Mammography Work?
Digital mammography system comes with solid-state detectors, which capture the X-rays that pass through the breast and convert them to electrical signals. These electrical signals are later used to create digital images of the breasts, and these images are stored on a computer.
During the procedure, the technician will ask the patient to position her breasts between two plates. These plates flatten and compress the breasts. Later the X-rays are passed through the breasts, which are captured by the detectors on the other side and are converted to digital images. These images will be shared with the oncologist, who will be assessing the screening results. The entire procedure may take up to 30 minutes.
Advantages of Digital Mammography
- Unlike film mammography, digital mammography allows radiologists to zoom in and have a better look at the abnormalities and make the best clinical decisions.
- By delivering better results, digital mammography eliminates the need for re-tests and follow-up screenings.
- The radiation dose in digital mammography is reduced by 25%, which makes it safer than its older counterparts.
- Digital mammograms are especially helpful in detecting breast cancers among women with dense breast tissues.
- It is a non-invasive procedure that takes less time and delivers accurate results.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some women experience discomfort during the mammography procedure, while some experience no discomfort at all. The pressure from compressing can cause pain and discomfort for women, and this is normal. It goes away after some time. However, some women may need medication to manage pain.
Mammograms are useful to find if there are any abnormalities present in the breasts. It shows both benign and malignant growths. A mammogram can detect a tumour at least two years before it can be felt during the physical breast examinations.
A digital mammogram helps in detecting tumours that are hiding in between the dense breast tissues. The subtle changes or abnormalities can be more clearly seen on digital mammograms when compared to film mammograms.
Studies have shown that digital mammography has an accuracy rate of 89.3%.
The entire procedure of digital mammography may take anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes.
Women should start getting their mammogram screening from age 40. Those individuals with a family history of breast cancer should start getting screened from age 35.
Women aged between 40 and 54 should get mammogram screening once every year. On the other hand, women aged above 55 should get screening done once every two years.