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Different Types of Mammograms

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Different Types of Mammograms  

Are there different types of mammograms?

There are two reasons mammograms are taken:

  • Screening

  • Diagnosis

  • Screening mammograms are done for women who have no symptoms of breast cancer.

    Diagnostic mammograms are done when a woman has symptoms of breast cancer or a breast lump. Diagnostic mammograms take longer than screening mammograms, because more pictures of the breast are taken.

    In January 2000, the FDA approved a new way of doing mammograms, called digital mammography. This technique records x-ray images on a computer, rather than directly on film. Digital mammography has the following advantages:

  • Can allow the technician taking the x-ray to make adjustments, such as enhancement, magnification, or other manipulation without having to take another mammogram

  • Can reduce exposure to radiation, due to reduction of the need for repeat mammograms

  • Takes pictures of the entire breast, even if the denseness of the breast tissue varies

  • Compared to film mammography, digital mammography is more sensitive for detection of abnormalities in women with dense breasts, pre-menopausal women, perimenopausal women, and women <50 years of age[1, 2]


    1. National Cancer Institute. Digital mammography trial results announced: women with dense breasts, women younger than 50, and those who are perimenopausal may benefit from digital mammograms. Accessed at www.cancer.gov/newscenter/pressreleases/DMISTrelease
    2. E. D. Pisano, C. Gatsonis, E. Hendrick, M. Yaffe, et al. Diagnostic performance of digital versus film mammography for breast cancer screening. New England Journal of Medicine. 2005; 353(37):1773-1783.

  • Questions Related to Different Types of Mammograms
    What is a mammogram?
    Do mammograms prevent breast cancer?
    I have had a mastectomy, but the cancer has been in remission for 2 years. Should I get a mammogram on the other breast?
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    What is the SureTouch Visual Mapping System?
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