Featured Local Business

Most Read: Wellness

Are Your Kids Caffeinated?

Find out why caffeine and kids don’t mix. Read more

Chatting About Online Safety

Nowadays kids of all ages are connecting with friends and fa... Read more

Why Yoga is Good for Kids

Little Cecilia Kocan, age 5, sat perfectly still, meditating... Read more

Family + Sports = Fun

Fitness starts early—from a child’s first steps! When Mom an... Read more

Nuts About Nuts

Holiday vacation time is approaching, and I already feel lik... Read more

The Dirt on Dirt

“Don’t track mud in the house!” “Wash your hands before din... Read more

Zits for Grown-Ups

Cafeteria cliques may be a distant memory, but if you’re sti... Read more

Walking the Middle Path

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a relatively new appro... Read more

Put an End to Bullying

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged ... Read more

Why Manners Matter

Start your children on the right foot by teaching them manne... Read more

Make Sleep a Priority

  Parents often use bedtime stories and other peaceful... Read more

Concerned about Fever?

One the most common reasons I see a child in my office is fo... Read more

Let's Move

Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in Amer... Read more

Bringing Home Baby

As a parent-to-be, you are probably feeling overwhelmed as y... Read more

Fitting in Fitness

When was the last time you played with your children—really ... Read more

Girls Fighting Fire

While going on nature hikes, singing songs, and roasting s&r... Read more

To Cell or Not to Cell

My husband and I were sitting on the couch chatting one nigh... Read more

Eat Your Veggies!

Summer’s bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables offers a... Read more

Plan a Summer Cookout

Some of my favorite summer memories were times when my dad b... Read more

Mild Concussions

Recently I had the opportunity to listen to Dave Baron, DO, ... Read more

2021 Feb

Advances in Mammography

Learn why mammograms are becoming better screening tools.

Most of us know that early detection of disease allows for the best possible health outcomes. In the instance of breast cancer, The American Cancer Society reports that the death rate from breast cancer was on the rise until the advent of widespread mammogram screenings in 1990. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the death rate from breast cancer has decreased by 34 percent between 1990 and 2010 in the United States.

Over these many decades, improvements in imaging technologies has taken the mammogram from a diagnostic tool in its infancy to high powered three-dimensional images used for routine screening for the earliest signs of breast cancer. Standard x-rays were the predecessors to mammography as far back as the early 1900s. Around the 1960s in the U.S., technologies developed for aerospace engineering that offered high-resolution imaging began to pivot to medical applications.

At its essence, mammograms are low dose X-rays of the breast that can show healthcare providers images of the breasts for evaluation. Mammography machines are designed to flatten or compress the breast between two plates to maximize the effectiveness of the x-ray. Earlier mammography presented the images onto film that was developed and reviewed by radiologists. These physicians would examine films to look for irregularities in breast tissue, specifically masses and calcifications. These findings are sent back to the referring physician with a detailed report.

Over 10 years ago, many mammography centers converted from film to digital technology that offered several advantages over film. Digital mammograms use less radiation and the images have better picture quality. Digital images are easier to manipulate on a computer and views can be magnified and enhanced to make more accurate assessments. These enhancements are especially helpful for women with dense breast tissue.

Additionally, storing and transferring images to patients’ medical records is far more streamlined with digital over film.

The latest advance in mammography is called tomosynthesis or 3D mammograms. Unlike the standard two-dimensional images, 3D takes multiple images from the top and side view and layers these images, and radiologists are presented with a three-dimensional image to analyze.

3D images capture more views and improve the likelihood of accurately diagnosing potential cancers. Additionally, greater accuracy can reduce the number of call-backs for additional mammograms, lessening worry on the part of patients. A woman will not notice any difference between the standard 2D and newer 3D mammogram. In both instances, a technician will flatten the breast between two plates and each one requires two views, one from the top and one from the side.

As tomosynthesis becomes more accessible, it may soon replace conventional digital mammograms and become what is called the standard of care. Currently both Medicare and Medicaid are allowing coverage for 3D mammography and these two insurers tend to set the customary coverage for other commercial insurers. Some insurers may cover the 3D mammogram but will assess an additional co-pay or patient paid cost.

Mammograms fall into two categories: diagnostic and screening. A diagnostic mammogram occurs when a woman is referred because she has any symptoms with her breast including lumps, pain, and nipple discharge, among others. A diagnostic mammogram may also be required as a follow-up to a screening mammogram if any abnormalities are detected.

A screening mammogram is performed on women with no symptoms or signs of breast cancer and is deemed to be of average risk for breast cancer. Most health organizations recommend these women get a baseline mammogram at age 40 and receive annual mammograms. Some women will be considered at high risk for breast cancer and should get a baseline mammogram beginning at age 30. These include women who have a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation or a 1st degree relative with a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation. Additionally, women who had radiation therapy to the chest between the ages of 10 and 30 should get a baseline mammogram at age 30.

Women should consult with their health care providers to talk about when to begin this important screening tool.

Timothy Hardy

Dr. Timothy Hardy, M.D. has been practicing medicine in the community for many years. He received his medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School and founded his own practice, Atlantic OB-GYN, in 1990, where he has been providing women with exceptional care ever since. For information, call 757-463-1234 or visit www.atlanticobgyn.com.

Website: www.atlanticobgyn.com

Enter to Win a FREE Subscription to Tidewater Family Plus Magazine

We're hosting an extra year-end giveaway and are excited to gift 5 FREE subscriptions to both Tidewater Family Plus Magazine, a $20.00 value! Entering is...

Free to Enter!