Women who have their annual mammogram at Park Plaza Hospital will benefit from an advance in technology – digital mammography. This new technology is now in place as of September 6, 2007. The new machine may look like the older film mammography machines, but the images produced are very different.
Both digital and film mammography uses X-rays to create images of the breast, but a National Cancer Institute study shows that digital mammography may have advantages over film. For instance, digital mammography was shown to provide better images for younger women (those under age 50) and women with very dense breasts. Digital mammography also uses less radiation than standard film mammograms.
How It Works
Digital mammography is very much like digital photography. The digital mammography machine takes an electronic picture of the breast and sends it to a computer. There the image can be stored and viewed by physicians. Since the image is on a computer, doctors can use special software to zoom in on an area of concern.
Patients may notice shorter wait times while the technologist makes certain that the image is acceptable. The technologist doesn’t have to develop and check the X-ray film but instead can immediately view the image on a nearby computer screen.
Other potential advantages of digital mammography include:
• Shorter imaging times. Digital images generally take less than a minute compared to 10 to 15 minutes for film mammography.
• Better images. Digital images have better contrast resolution and allow physicians to manipulate the images to view different areas of the breast.
Preparing for Your Mammogram
A mammogram is a simple X-ray exam that requires little preparation. You'll be asked to undress from the waist up, so wear a loose blouse or sweater rather than a dress. Avoid using deodorant, powder, ointments, creams or perfume on your underarm or breast area. And be sure to tell your doctor or technologist if you are pregnant or think you might be.
Mammography Aids in Early Detection
Mammography, whether standard film or digital, aids in the early detection of breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 270,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. Yet thanks to early detection and treatment, 88 percent of those diagnosed reach the five-year survival rate and 63 percent survive 20 years after diagnosis.
The American Cancer Society recommends that at age 40 women begin adding an annual mammogram to their annual clinical breast exam and monthly breast self-examination. Women ages 20 to 39 should have a clinical breast exam every three years and perform a monthly breast self-check.
Scheduling Your Mammogram
Park Plaza Hospital's Centralized Scheduling Department will schedule your appointment and obtain any necessary pre-authorizations. They will also let you know about any financial obligations for which you may be responsible. The Centralized Scheduling department is available to schedule your mammogram Monday through Friday from 7:30am until 5:00pm. Their phone number is 713-527-3500.