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Digital mammograms are best

DigitalMamm

Mammograms: Digitally yours

All mammograms start the same way, with an X-ray of the breast. But a newer type, called a digital mammogram, processes images differently. It records and stores images on a computer instead of on X-ray film.

Digital mammograms still require compressing the breasts to get good images. But according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), they have some advantages over film.

Viewing and sharing

After you have a mammogram, the images are analyzed by a specialist called a radiologist. With digital mammograms, the radiologist can adjust the images on the computer screen to get a better look. He or she can change the size, brightness or contrast to see certain areas more clearly. Some studies show that this reduces the number of women who need to return for extra tests.

If the radiologist wants to send the images to your doctor or show them to another specialist, this can easily be done electronically. Managing images this way is similar to how digital photos can be viewed and shared.

Both film and digital mammograms work well at finding breast cancer. However, several studies show that digital images may be more accurate in women younger than 50 and in women with dense breast tissue, reports the ACS.

Safe and effective

While all x-rays use radiation, the dose from both film and digital mammograms is very small. In fact, one mammogram delivers about the same amount of radiation as you would be exposed to flying on a commercial flight from New York to California.

If you only have access to film mammograms, don’t worry. Both types are very good at detecting breast changes early, when treatment works best.

According to the ACS, women should begin having yearly mammograms at age 40. To schedule your mammogram, call 815-334-5566.