A Mammogram is used to examine the internal structure of the breast (“Mammary Glad”). A specialised X-Ray is obtained of the breast, and the X-Ray films are interpreted by the Radiologist. Accurate interpretation of Mammograms requires significant experience. At North Coast Radiology Group we have a team of highly skilled Radiologists who are able to not only interpret your examination with a high degree of accuracy but also provide a collegiate environment to cross-check examinations with.
The basic theory behind mammography is that different types of tissue stop x-rays by different amounts. In particular, breast cancers tend to stop x-rays much more than normal breast tissue. Also, some forms of breast cancer contain tiny flecks of calcium, which stop x-rays very well. These abnormal densities and certain sorts of calcification are what the Radiologist searches for.
You should also be aware that sometimes the breast tissue of some women can also stop x-rays very efficiently. This means that occasionally abnormalities are hidden, or masked inside normal tissue. In particular, the breasts of younger women often appear very dense on mammograms.
You should also know that the mammogram is very good at detecting small and subtle abnormalities that develop over time. It is therefore, very important to bring previous mammograms with you. The radiologist is looking for small changes, which by themselves may be unremarkable, but may be very significant if they were not there one or two years ago.
What is 2D and 3D Mammography
2D Digital Mammography is the most common breast imaging method used in Australia. There are some patients for whom 3D Mammogrpahy (also known as Breast Tomosynthesis) is particularly suitable for example higher-risk patients compared with 2D Mammography.
3D Mammography examinations allow the breast tissue to be examined in thin ‘layers’, typically 1mm thick. This helps see through overlapping structures that may mimic or hide lesions on a conventional Mammogram.
North Coast Radiology currently has 3D Mammogram technology at its Lismore Women’s Imaging Branch.
Do Men have Mammograms?
Yes, Men can and often do have Mammograms. Men may have “lumps” in the breast, as women do. Most often, as with women, these lumps are not cancer, but caused by hormonal changes in the body. Rarely, a male breast lump may be malignant. One percent of all breast cancers occur in men.