Mammography is a simple, safe X-ray examination of the breast. Mammograms can show slight changes in the breast tissue and reveal abnormalities, including tiny cancerous tumors when they are too small to be felt. When discovered early, most breast cancers can be effectively treated.
Both Doylestown Hospital and The Health and Wellness Center in Warrington, PA offer digital mammography, which captures the image of a breast electronically. As the breast tissue is compressed and scanned, the digital image appears instantly on the computer monitor and is simultaneously stored in the computer. One of the benefits of digital mammography is that the computerized breast image can be enlarged for a better view of dense tissue.
A physician's order is required for mammograms. Managed care patients also require a referral for certain studies.
Facts About Breast Density
Breasts are made up of a mixture of fibrous and glandular tissue and fatty tissue. Your breasts are considered dense if you have a lot of fibrous or glandular tissue but not much fat. Density may decrease with age, but there is little, if any, change in most women.
Having dense breast tissue may increase your risk of getting breast cancer. Dense breasts also make it more difficult for doctors to spot cancer on mammograms. Dense tissue appears white on a mammogram. Lumps, both benign and cancerous, also appear white. So, mammograms can be less accurate in women with dense breasts.
However, even if you have dense breasts it is still recommended that you get routine mammograms. A mammogram is still the only medical imaging screening test proven to reduce breast cancer deaths, and many cancers are seen on mammograms even if you have dense breast tissue.
If you have dense breasts, please talk to your doctor. Together, you can decide which, if any, additional screening exams are right for you.
Breast Density and Cancer Risk
If you have dense breasts or if you have other concerns about your breast cancer risk, there are resources available to aid in assessing your risk.