Role of Mammography

Get the Picture? Mammography is a Key Tool in Fight Against Breast Cancer

Patient receiving mammogramRecent years have seen a number of stories questioning the value of mammography, confusing patients and practitioners alike. But experts at The Breast Center at Valley Medical Center believe that mammography remains the most effective, accessible tool for the detection of breast cancer at its earliest and most treatable stages.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association confirms this view. The study found that women whose cancers were detected through screening mammography had better outcomes than those whose cancers were found through other methods.

The study was conducted by Finnish researchers who analyzed the records of women with unilateral breast carcinoma. The group found that tumors detected through screening mammography were typically smaller than those discovered with other methods—possibly indicating that the tumors were found earlier. Women whose cancers were found outside of mammography also required more invasive treatments such as mastectomy and axillary dissection, and they had higher rates of tumor recurrence away from the original cancer.

In large clinical studies, regular screening mammography has been shown to reduce breast cancer mortality by up to 44 percent.

The American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology currently recommend yearly screening mammograms for women ages 40 and older. For women between ages 20 and 39, the ACS recommends a clinical breast examination by a health professional every 3 years, increasing to yearly at age 40. The ACS also recommends that women 20 years and over perform monthly breast self-examinations.

At The Breast Center at Valley Medical Center, strict federal guidelines are followed to ensure mammography equipment is safe. The radiation risk associated with screening mammography is extremely low and does not significantly increase the risk for breast cancer.

Prior to the advent of modern mammography, less than 3 percent of newly diagnosed breast cancers were in situ. Now, approximately 16 percent are found at this early stage. Today women whose in situ breast cancers are properly diagnosed and treated have excellent prognoses and much higher long-term survival rates.

Schedule a Mammogram

To schedule your next mammogram, call The Breast Center at 425.656.5588.