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Breast Health

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is an x-ray examination of the breasts, used to detect and diagnose breast diseases.

Screening mammography is used as a preventative measure for women who have no symptoms of breast disease.



Who should have a mammogram?

The American Cancer Society recommends that all women should have a baseline screening mammogram between the age of 35 and 40. After the age of 40 women must have an annual screening mammogram.

In addition to annual screening for women 40 and older, women with certain risk factors should discuss an appropriate screening program with their physician.

How should I prepare for a Mammogram?

Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts on the day of your examination. These can appear on the mammogram as calcium spots.

Describe any breast symptoms or problems to the technologist performing the exam.

If possible, obtain prior mammograms and bring them with you at the time of your current exam so that they are available for the radiologist to compare.

How is the procedure performed?

You will need to undress above the waist and a disposable examination gown will be given to you to wear during the mammogram.

You and a specially qualified breast imaging technologist will be the only ones present during the procedure.

During the mammogram the technologist will position one breast at a time on a special imaging platform. The breast is then gently compressed with a paddle and the exposure is made. The paddle will release automatically once the exposure is done.

Breast compression is necessary in order to:

Even out the breast thickness so that all the tissue can be visualized, so that small abnormalities are less likely to be obscured by overlying breast tissue.

Holds the breast still in order to minimize blurring of the image caused by motion.

You will be asked to change position between images.

The routine views are a top to bottom view and an angled side view. The process will be repeated for the other breast.

An ultrasound examination of the breasts will be performed after the mammogram is complete.

The entire process should take 20 minutes.

Who interprets the results?

A radiologist that is specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations will analyse the images. The procedure and its analysis will be thoroughly explained to you by the radiologist.

A formal report will be prepared for you. You will receive a CD containing your digital images and a copy of the report. Your report will also be either sent by email or fax to your referring physician for your convenience.

What are the benefits of a mammogram?

Imaging of the breast improves a physician’s ability to detect small tumours. When cancers are small, the patient has more treatment options.

The use of screening mammography increases the detection of small abnormal tissue growths confined to the milk ducts in the breast, called Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS). These early tumours cannot harm patients if they are removed at this stage and mammography is the only proven method to be reliably detect these tumours. It is also useful for detecting all types of breast cancer, including invasive ductal and invasive lobular cancer.

No radiation remains in a patient’s body after an x-ray examination.

X-rays have no side effects in the typical diagnostic range for this examination.


What is Breast Tomosynthesis?

Breast tomosynthesis ( 3D mammography) is a new type of mammogram that produces a 3D image of the breast that was approved by the FDA on the 11 February, 2011.

Breast tomosynthesis is an additional screening tool in the fight against breast cancer, providing a shift in breast cancer screening by taking digital mammography to the next level.

Tomosynthesis will feel similar to a traditional digital mammogram. Breast tomosynthesis uses high powered computing to convert digital breast images into a stack of very thin layers or “slices” – building what is essentially a “3-dimensional mammogram”.

During the tomosynthesis part of the exam of the x-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over the breast, taking multiple breast images in just seconds. Very low x-ray energy is used so a patient’s exposure is about the same as that of a digital mammogram. A computer then produces a 3D image of the patient’s breast tissue in 1mm layers.

To see Breast Tomosynthesis click the following link :


Now the radiologist can see breast tissue detail in a way never before possible. Breast tomosynthesis allows doctors to examine breast tissue one layer at a time. Instead of viewing all the complexities of a patients breast tissue in a flat image, the doctor can examine the tissue 1mm at a time. Fine details are clearly visible, no longer hidden by the tissue above and below. 3D images help radiologists’ better see the size, shape and location of abnormalities resulting in both detecting of smaller tumours and much fewer false positive exams.


Easier Detection : By minimising the impact of overlapping breast tissue, tomosynthesis can make a tumour easier to see.

Earlier Detection : Overlapping tissue can hide a small cancer in a 2D image. But with tomosynthesis, the images can be taken apart and examined individually, which means that tomosynthesis may detect cancers earlier than a standard mammogram.

Fewer Callbacks: Tomosynthesis can help radiologists reduce false alarms. For example, 3D view can prove that a spot that looked questionable in 2D is really no cause for concern. This leads to fewer callbacks, fewer additional scans and biopsies, and less anxiety for patients.


HOLOGIC has been at the forefront of the breast cancer screening industry’s transformation from analog to digital mammography.

Now Hologic has taken another significant leap forward with the introduction of Selenia Dimensions, the first commercially available tool to deliver on the extraordinary promise of breast tomosynthesis.

This is the newest and latest of breast imaging solutions, delivering exceptional digital images which takes breast imaging technology to the next level. For the first time ever this tomosynthesis technology can be offered to the patients – an extraordinary innovation poised to revolutionize how breast cancer is detected today.

The Selenia Dimensions system delivers:

Exceptionally sharp images for visualization of the finest details.

Ground breaking breast tomosynthesis technology for diagnostic performance.

“Combo Mode” imaging, acquires a traditional digital mammogram and tomosynthesis scan in the same compression.

Sophisticated, ergonomic features specifically developed to assure the well-being of the patient.

Integrated upright biopsy capabilities for minimally invasive biopsy procedures under the same modality as imaging.



An upright breast biopsy procedure innovation is now available, called the Affirm.

The revolutionary Affirm biopsy option allows the radiologist to locate and accurately target regions of interest for biopsy.

All breast biopsy procedures are done under sterile conditions and are performed by the radiologist. ( under local anaesthetic)


A 3D mammogram is a safe and effective test that when used in combination with a conventional 2D mammogram, can find some cancers that may have been missed with traditional mammography, reduce your chance of being asked to come back for additional tests, and may reduce the number of “unnecessary” breast biopsies performed.

Radiation dose for the examination is reduced due to the specialised filters within the machine. The dose is below government safety standards and been declared safe and effective by the FDA.

Tomosynthesis is effective in all patients and has shown particularly good results in patients with dense breasts.


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