What Is Digital Mammography?

Digital mammography is a very high-resolution X-ray exam of the breasts.  This exam allows breast cancer detection when it is still extremely small—often too small to be felt by patient or physician.  All mammography uses very low dose X-rays to capture images of the breast.  In addition to the radiologist’s visual interpretation, the data is subjected to an algorithm to identify suspicious areas with computer assistance. Our digital equipment includes the new technology of VuComp’s MVu® CAD, or "computer aided detection," which highlights areas in the breast deemed suspicious by the computer program.  This increases the accuracy of the radiologist's reading and significantly increases sensitivity.

What Is The Difference Between
A Screening and Diagnostic Mammogram?

MAMMOGRAM: DESCRIPTION

A screening mammogram is a routine annual mammogram that is done every year in asymptomatic patients.  The mammogram will be interpreted by an experienced board-certified radiologist.  If you require additional mammographic views or a breast ultrasound, we will notify you right away.  Sometimes a radiologist may ask you to come back for follow-up images.  This is now called a diagnostic mammogram.  This "second look" improves visualisation of an unclear area in the breast or targets a discovered abnormality for confirmation.

A diagnostic mammogram is needed if the screening mammogram has questionable results, if you or your doctor feel a mass or other abnormality in your breast, if there is nipple discharge or skin change and sometimes if you have a history of breast cancer or surgery.  A diagnostic mammogram is closely monitored by the radiologist as you undergo imaging, and the views are tailored to the problem at hand.

How Is Digital Mammography Performed?

You will be asked to remove clothing from the waist up and stand in front of the mammography machine.  A good mammogram requires the breast to be safely compressed between 2 plates.  This measured and monitored compression is only applied for a short time and is automatically released after the exposure is completed.  Our technicians have been taught to maximize the degree of compression while minimizing discomfort.

Sometimes a radiologist may request more films be taken so that a focus can be seen more clearly.  To do so, the technician may return several times to take more films.  Don't be alarmed by this, as it is a common occurrence and does not necessarily imply that something is wrong.  Often, an unexplained focal mammographic abnormality or a palpable focal abnormality not visible on mammogram, as well as dense breast pattern limiting mammographic sensitivity, will be further evaluated with a breast ultrasound the same day to reach a final conclusion.

Mammography Recommendations

Mammograms can spot tumors up to 2 years before you can feel them. The 5-year survival rate for breast cancer is 98%.  
So why—despite these facts—did only half of US women ages 40 and older get an annual mammogram last year? Here are some common concerns along with our responses.

  • "I am concerned it will hurt."  Our low-compression mammography is virtually painless.
  • "I'm worried about radiation."  Our low-dose imaging reduces exposure by up to 50%.
  • "Breast cancer doesn't run in my family."  Most cancer is sporadic and not inherited.
  •  "I don't want to get bad news."  If detected early, the survival rate is 98%.
  • "I'm just too busy."  The most important test of your life takes less than 30 minutes.

When detected early, the 5-year survival rate for breast cancer is 98%.
The American Cancer Society recommends the following guidelines for breast-cancer screening in women with no symptoms of breast cancer:

  • Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast examination by a health care professional every 3 years.
  • Beginning at age 40, women should have a clinical breast examination by a health care professional AND have a screening mammogram every year.  They should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.
  • Breast self-examination is an option for women starting in their 20s.  Women should be told about the benefits and limitations of the BSE.  Women should report any breast changes to their health professional right away.
  • Please visit the American Cancer Society website for more detailed information about their guidelines from breast cancer screening.

Technology

Our Planmed Nuance Excel low-dose full-field digital mammography unit is a state-of-the-art machine with the latest technology.  This unit is the first of its kind to be installed in New Jersey.  The Nuance Excel reduces radiation exposure by as much as 50%.  In addition, room-temperature breast plates, low compression and automatic-release pressure maximize comfort.  The unit also features a unique mechanism by which it comfortably rolls the breast into the machine, thereby maximizing the amount of tissue visualized without sacrificing the patient’s comfort.  This proprietary feature is only available on the Planmed Nuance Excel.