What is mammographic exam?


General speaking, mammography is an X-ray of mammary gland. Usually X-rays in different projection planes are sufficient to clarify the status of the gland. Mammography is a method of examination, which uses X-rays and the images obtained by them to establish abnormalities in mammary glands. Mammography is a screening method to reveal malignant formations in mammary glands even when there are no symptoms about their existence. It reveals “lumps” in mamma, changes in the structure or calcificates, when they are so small that could not be established by ordinary exam. International anti-cancer institutions for struggle of mammary gland cancer recommend all women at the age over 40 to carry out mammography each year /Аmerican Cancer Society/. Women with increased risk to develop cancer of mammary glands are those whose mothers or sisters have been diagnosed for mammary gland cancer. They should have done their first mammography at an age of 10 years less than the one, at which mammary gland cancer was established in their relative. The first mammography is important and basic. All the next one shall be compared against it. Thus the physicians shall be orientated and can define if there is and what are the change resulting in the structure of mammary gland. Many scientists are on the opinion that the first mammography should be done between 30 and 35 years of age. They call it basic. Mammography is carried out by specially trained team of X-ray laboratory assistant and certified physician-radiologist. Special X-ray unit is used – mammograph, which allows exact spatial positioning of mammary gland tissues. Light, dosed compression is applied onto mamma, so that it should reduce its plane volume. Thus, the maximum low dose of radiation is used. Compression onto mamma could evoke temporary discomfort, but it lasts several seconds only, while performing the X-ray. Sometimes it is necessary to make extra X-rays in other projections to clarify the status of mammary gland structure. This is estimated and prescribed by the physician-radiologist, who is reading and interpreting the X-ray image of mammography. The results from the exam are submitted to the patients as soon as possible after its performance. The status of mammary gland is described and recommendations are given, if necessary. The exam results may be submitted to the GP or other physician specialist, who have requested its performance. In many women the glandular structure of mamma is significantly thick. This tissue seems “white” on the X-ray image (mammography). Some pathological structures also seem “white” on mammography. Sometimes it is difficult to make a differentiation between them and therefore the physician-radiologist may recommend extra echographic (ultrasonic) exam, or in some cases – MRI (magnet  resonance).



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