What do you know about mammography testing?

Multi-ethnic group of women, men at breast cancer rallyThere’s no getting around it – women go through a lot. From child birth, pap smears, menstruation, grooming, and we can’t forget…mammograms. Of course, some of these are personal choices – especially because they vary in levels of discomfort. They are all important and sometimes necessary to stay healthy.

If you haven’t gotten a mammogram in a while, you may not know how technological advancements make this test more accurate. That’s great for you because you know it’s worth your time. If you’re 40+ and have been steering clear of your mammogram, it’s time to get back on track.

First, some science. The breast is one of the hardest spots of the body to image through x-rays. Think of all the different densities of breast tissues and fat. The tissue also differs among women of different ages – it can be dense or fatty. Because of this, it’s been historically hard to get a high contrast image of the different layers of the breast anatomy.

 

This test’s major improvements deal with that. Here’s a quick, very simplified, 50-year history of mammography.

THE 60s and 70s

In the 60s, radiologists screened for breast cancer with direct exposure film, which couldn’t effectively “cut through” the breast tissue to check for tumors. It was essentially getting a chest x-ray. Direct exposure film also meant higher radiation exposure.

THE 80s and 90s

Screen-film mammography came to the forefront as the gold standard of mammography in the 80s and 90s. It became easier to see contrasts in tissue and identify abnormalities, but still wasn’t “quite there.”

CONGRESS GOT INVOLED

The mammography test continued to get better as more teams dedicated to mammography radiation formed. In the 90s, Congress passed the Mammography Quality Standards Act of 1992, which had nation-wide implications. This resulted in higher-quality imaging and interpretations of the imaging.

THE 2000s

In the 2000s came the introduction of digital mammography. Because of this evolution, fewer and shorter exposures are needed. This makes the process safer with less radiation exposure, and more comfortable for the patient. Additionally, it is easier to see the contrast in digital imaging vs. film imaging.

THE 2010s

Mammography testing continues to become more refined, especially with the latest introduction of 3D Tomosynthesis Mammography. Instead of flat imaging, 3D Mammography allows for an exact look into the layers of breast tissue, decreasing the number of false-positives and false-negatives.

 

Some Good News – and More Reason to Have Your Mammogram

Mortalities from breast cancer continue to decline. There are many reasons for this, including more awareness and research funding from sources like the Komen Race for the Cure, and nation-wide standards set in place for imaging and interpretation. The one we’re focusing on in this article is early detection, caused by the improvements of mammography imaging. You can see in the graph below from the National Center for Health Statistics from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, that in the 90s, when strides were made, the mortality rate from breast cancer began its decline.

Cancer Death Rates Graph

When you get your mammogram test at Think Whole Person Healthcare, you get a huge benefit. Think Whole Person Healthcare offers results within 24 hours.* This is beneficial because it eliminates wait and worry – you can discuss the results of your mammogram with your Think Whole Person Healthcare primary doctor  in a timely manner. It’s the holistic, patient-centered  way to practice healthcare.

 

Plus, when you get your mammogram at Think Whole Person Healthcare this month, you’re automatically entered into a drawing to win a Breast Cancer Awareness gift basket or gift card for you and/or to share with a friend affected by breast cancer. It’s an extra perk and incentive to get the test. We’re here to help you live life to the fullest. After all, Life Is For Living.

 

*Note: Radiologists can only give you 24-hour turn-around when they have access to your previous mammograms so they can give you the most accurate interpretation your results.