Mammography: X-ray and Breast Tissue
Breast cancer is a common malignancy diagnosed in women. In the United States one in eight women who live to the age of 95 will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Even with the high rate of diagnosis, it remains the most treatable due to early screening and improved detection methods. Mammography is the precedent for screening and diagnostic procedures in the breast cancer field. Its enhancements through the years, together with higher resolution, faster, lower-dose screen-film combinations, have contributed to earlier cancer detection in women.
Dr. Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen discovered x-rays while working with a Crookes tube in his laboratory on November 8, 1895. Eighteen years later mammography got its rudimentary …show more content…
Therefore, a dense microcalcification of the breast will appear whiter than the rest of the breast tissue. For that reason both breasts are examined for comparison purposes.
Once the screening is complete, the radiologist looks for evidence of cancer or non-cancerous conditions that may require further testing, follow-up or treatment by looking at the density and shapes of the tissues on the radiograph. Their findings could include things such as calcium deposits in ducts and other tissues, masses or lumps, distorted tissues or dense areas appearing in only one breast and/or that have appeared since last mammogram. Calcifications can be the result of cell secretions, cell debris, inflammation, trauma, previous radiation or foreign bodies. Tiny, irregular deposits with sharp edges called microcalcifications may be associated with cancer. Larger, coarser deposits called macrocalcifications may be caused by a benign condition known as fibroadenoma. Dense areas indicate tissue with many glands and can make calcifications and masses more difficult to identify. They could also represent cancer. Distorted areas suggest tumors that may have invaded tissues. If any of these abnormal conditions are found the patient is referred for further testing, possibly a diagnostic mammogram, MRI, ultrasound or a biopsy.
Radiation safety is a concern with all parties involved. The doctor and the technologist should see that proper