We are proud to announce our new machine is finally here! Brand new and equipped with all the bells and whistles that make today’s mammographies not only better, clearer images, but also so much more comfortable for the patient, The GE Senographe Essential was worth the wait.
A mammogram is an x-ray image of the breast tissue. It is part of what is called traditional radiography, a process that uses small amounts of ionizing radiation that pass through a certain body part to produce images on film.
Though mammographic images have been around since the 1920s, the last decade has seen such great strides in the development of all medical imaging that older machines just don’t stand a chance.
The GE Senographe Essential is a machine that is not only made more ergonomic for the patient, more comfortable for the largest range of breast sizes on the market, but so technologically advanced that it adjusts the level of radiation exposure and image filters based on breast density. This is essential to minimal exposure and optimal imaging.
But what does that really mean for our patients? It means gentler compression, less discomfort, and because the images show breast densities and calcifications so much better, there is less need for further imaging and less worry.
Today mammography is the top tool for breast cancer prevention and diagnosis. In fact, it is recommended that all women get yearly mammograms starting at the age of 35. With the increasing amount of breast cancer cases every year, clinical studies have proven that with early detection and proper patient management and screening, the mortality rate has been reduced significantly. IPMC constantly strives to stay on the cutting edge of technology and vehemently supports women’s health. This is just one improvement in a long series of upgrades already in progress.
Mammograms break down into three categories:
- Routine or screening mammograms
- Diagnostic mammograms
- Additional views mammograms
Routine or Screening Mammography
It is recommended that all women, starting at the age of 40, receive a screening mammogram once a year. Women who have a family history (biological mother or sisters) of pre-menopausal breast cancer may be required to have a mammogram even earlier. This, coupled with regular manual self-examination, is, thus far, the best tool for early diagnosis of breast problems including breast cancer.
These mammograms can show tumors that cannot be palpated and are very important because early breast cancer may not present any symptoms.
Unlike a screening mammogram, a diagnostic mammogram looks for something specific. This can be because of a lump that you or your doctor felt upon a manual examination, or because your medical history suggests that you are at a higher risk of getting breast cancer. In either case, you may have to get a diagnostic mammogram and it may be well before the age of 40. It may also be followed by a breast ultrasound. In younger women, the referring physician may prefer to do just a breast ultrasound to avoid early breast exposure to radiation. Diagnostic mammograms may require different angles or close-ups of specific areas of the breast.
Are You a Candidate?
The following risk factors may cause your doctor to request a diagnostic mammogram:
- Family history of breast cancer
- Unusual finding during a manual exam
- Unusual findings in a previous mammogram
- Personal history of breast cancer
- Unusual menstrual or reproductive history
- History of radiation therapy
- Prolonged use of menopausal hormone therapy
Additional Views Mammography
In some cases the radiologist may contact your physician and suggest that additional views of the breast are needed. Though it should be done fairly quickly, this is no cause for panic. Radiologists have to be very thorough, so the slightest change in breast tissue may be a reason for additional images.