Digital mammography is a safe computerized medical imaging technique, that uses X-rays in low doses, to obtain a high resolution image of the internal structure of the breast. This allows the detection of benign or malignant tumors and changes in breast tissue.
The reasons for mammography are as follows:
- presence of a palpable mass
- anomalies of skin and nipple
- abnormal flow
- high risk due to family history
- rupture of a prosthesis.
During the examination, each breast is positioned individually on a platform, and will be gradually compressed with a paddle. Breast compression is necessary to obtain an adequate image of the mammary gland; which can sometimes be uncomfortable for some patients. This allows better visualisation of the breast tissue, using low doses of radiation, and providing better resolution. The technologist will take all necessary precautions to minimise the pain you may feel.
After the mammography, a radiologist analyses the images, a minimum of four (4) images are obtained: two (2) of each breast. If needed, the technologist may add a few additional images to ensure that the entire gland has been properly shown.
It is possible for the radiologist, to request additional images of compression and/or magnification for various reasons. You will then be notified a few days later for a new appointment. This does not mean that the diagnosis is severe or that you should be concerned.
Mammography does not always provide a definitive diagnosis: it allows seeing whether there is an abnormality in the breast, but it is not always possible in determining with certainty if there cancer or not.
Other complementary examinations are then necessary to establish the diagnosis:
- Breast MRI
- Sampling (biopsy)
As is the case with Canada, Quebec, has adopted a systematic screening programme for all women 50 to 69 years old: the Quebec Breast Cancer Screening Program (PQDCS).
RADIMED is a dedicated centre for breast cancer screening, acknowledged by the Ministry of Health and Social Services of Quebec.
No deodorant, antiperspirant, powder or lotion under the arms or breasts.
Avoiding beverages and foods containing caffeine (cola, coffee, chocolate, tea) for 5-7 days before the mammography may help reduce the discomfort and sensitivity of the breast. It is also possible to take, a Tylenol or Advil tablet an hour before the exam, to reduce sensitivity during compression.
It is best not to have a mammography 7 to 10 days before menstruation due to an increased sensitivity of the breasts during this period.
When you have already had a mammography in another center, it is important to bring with you a CD with the images of your previous exams, if possible. This will help the radiologist, in comparing the images and, if necessary, preventing having other examinations.
15 to 20 Minutes * If there are mammary prostheses, the examination may last up to 40 minutes.
by the RAMQ