What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is an x-ray image of the breast that used to screen for breast cancer. A screening mammogram is an effective option for detecting breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease. Usually two or more images of each breast are taken, and then often make it possible to detect tumors that cannot be felt. Microcalcifications (tiny deposits of calcium) sometimes indicate the presence of breast cancer, and screening mammograms can detect those as well.
If a lump or another sign of breast cancer is found, your doctor will check for breast cancer using a diagnostic mammogram. A diagnostic mammogram can be used to evaluate changes found during a screening mammogram, or to view breast tissue when a screening mammogram is difficult to obtain.
How are screening and diagnostic mammograms different?
Both procedures use the same machines, although diagnostic mammography takes longer to perform. Diagnostic mammography also requires a higher dose of radiation, as more x-ray images are needed to obtain views of the breast from several angles. Additionally, with a diagnostic mammogram, the technologist can magnify suspicious areas to produce a detailed picture so that your doctor can make an accurate diagnosis.
What are the benefits of mammography?
Screening mammography allows for the early detection of breast cancer so that treatment can begin earlier, possibly before the disease can spread. But the benefits of mammograms will always need to be weight against the harm. Studies show that women between the ages of 40-74 can benefit from regular screenings. If you are under the age of 40, regular screenings are not recommended and studies have not shown the same benefits as older women. In general, when it comes to mammograms, it is important to have an OB/GYN or doctor you can trust.
Request an appointment in the San Fernando Valley
Dr. Gary Ott and the staff at Premier Women’s Health Associates provide gynecologic services to help you stay ahead of breast cancer. If you’d like to schedule medical breast exams or a mammogram, request an appointment online or give us a call at (818) 346-5000. Serving Calabasas, West Lake, Thousand Oaks, and surrounding areas, we aim to improve the overall health and wellness of our patients. Contact our compassionate, friendly staff today.