Mammography is a specific type of low dose x-ray imaging performed of the breasts. The main aim of mammography is early detection of breast cancer to allow for curative management. We follow the recommendations of the Cancer Society of South Africa by recommending yearly screening mammography in all female patients starting at age 40. In some high risk patients, this may be started at an earlier age.
We use digital mammography which has significantly improved image quality and also allows for a lower radiation dose. In most cases two images of each breast is obtained and evaluated by the radiologist. Depending on the findings, he may request further special views. At our Hilton Health branch we also have the ability to obtain tomosynthesis images, which allow us to separate superimposed structures on mammograms.
Complete breast imaging however consists of more than just mammograms. Breast ultrasound is often used as an adjunct to further evaluate specific findings, in patients with dense breasts or in young patients. MRI of the breast are also performed in select cases.
If a suspicious lesion is detected we often continue with a biopsy of that lesion, either using ultrasound guidance or stereotactic mammography guidance.
When coming for a mammogram, it is always important to bring any previous mammography studies along to allow for comparison.
See www.radiologyinfo.org for more information on radiological studies.