The mammogram remains the most reliable method to detect breast cancer. Since its debut in 1969, this special X-ray of the breast has saved thousands of women's lives by finding abnormalities in breast tissue up to two years before they are large enough to be felt.
Detecting cancer early is the key to successful treatment. More than 90 out of 100 women will be cured if their cancer is found at an early stage.
Main Line Health Imaging provides a full range of mammography services conveniently located in facilities throughout the region in designated Breast Centers with appointments to fit into the busiest schedule. State-of-the-art technology, experienced and specialized radiologists, and certified mammography technologists combine to offer women the best care possible for routine screenings or diagnostic studies.
Full-Field Digital Mammography
Standard mammography uses low-energy X-rays and very high resolution film to produce the highest detail of the breast soft tissue. Main Line Health Imaging is among the first in the region to employ state-of-the-art digital mammography in all our facilities.
Digital mammography records breast images on a very sensitive digital detector and displays them on a computer monitor. Digital mammography makes more information about the breast available because the computer images can be enhanced, lightened, darkened or magnified.
For a more thorough assessment, computer assisted detection (CAD) can be used in conjunction with digital imaging. Main Line Health Imaging uses a CAD system called ImageChecker, that assists radiologists in detecting breast cancer by digitalizing and then analyzing mammograms for possible abnormal findings. ImageChecker highlights areas on the mammogram that contain features associated with cancer, allowing physicians to make earlier and more accurate diagnoses than ever. Use of this computer-aided detection software provides an important second look at images of the breast, which can increase the cancer detection rate by as much as 20%.
Advantages of digital mammography include:
The images are viewed immediately by the technologist so that any problems in the image can be corrected while you are still in the room, saving time during the examination. You will actually see your images appear in the exam room as the technologist takes them.
The average radiation dose to the breast is lower with digital mammography. The detector is more sensitive than film, especially for dense breasts in younger patients. Images of dense breast tissue provide more information since the computer tailors the exposure to each area of the breast.
More information is available to the radiologist with digital imaging than with traditional film exposures. Once the images are obtained, they are sent by computer to the radiologist who interprets the images using a high resolution monitor. The images can then be manipulated bu computer to enhance details, lighten, darken and magnify areas of interest. This is not possible with traditional film mammography.
Mammograms are interpreted by Main Line Health Imaging's board-certified radiologists who have additional certification by the ACR (American College of Radiology) specifically for mammography interpretation.
Other Diagnositc Services
Stereotactic Breast Biopsy — This minimally-invasive procedures uses three-dimensional computerized imaging to pinpoint suspicious areas in the breast for biopsy.
Ultrasound-guided Biopsy — These biopsies are performed at the hospital or surgeon’s office. The radiologist/physician uses an ultrasound to accurately locate the suspicious area and to guide the needle into position for a specimen.
Needle Localization — This procedures is performed using x-rays to determine the precise location of abnormal tissue. A needle can be inserted in the area to allow a surgeon in the operating room to accurately remove the abnormality for analysis.
Breast MRI — For certain women, this examination may help determine the extent of disease and influence treatment decisions. It is also used as a problem-solving tool when mammogram and ultrasound results are inconclusive. MRI-guided needle localizations and MRI-guided biopsies can be performed at all sites.
A Few Important Points About Mammography
Research confirms the life-saving benefits of mammograms. In Sweden, the largest study to date showed that screenings reduce death from breast cancer by 28 percent in women aged 40 to 69. And National Cancer Institute researchers associated 52 percent of late-stage breast cancers with patients' failure to have mammograms. The physicians of Main Line Health Imaging, committed to providing timely and expert mammography services, urge all women to abide by American Cancer Society recommendations to get annual mammograms starting at age 40. Your physician may advise you to have more frequent mammograms based on factors such as your family history. Mammography is also performed for diagnostic evaluation of a palpable lump.
As part of the reading process, approximately 1 in 10 mammograms require additional views to better define a finding. Just because you have been requested to return for additional views, don't be alarmed. Most of the additional views are taken of benign findings, which are not cancer. We are aware of the anxiety caused by returns for additional films, and we will make every attempt to schedule your additional views in a timely fashion. When you return for these additional tests, you will be given the result of your exam while you are in our department, and have an opportunity to speak to our radiologist about your results if you wish.
Vital to proper mammogram interpretation is comparison to previous mammograms. If you have signed out your previous mammograms, please bring them with you when you return for follow-up mammograms. If you have mammograms from other facilities outside of the MLH system, it is vital that you bring these with you, so that we can properly interpret your study.
As a final note, please be aware that annual mammograms alone are not enough to detect all breast cancers. A physical examination by your physician and self-examination are important. If you feel a lump or your physician has a concern, additional testing may be necessary even if your mammogram appears normal. Even with the best state-of-the-art mammography equipment available today, there are still a small subset of breast cancers that remain invisible. This is especially true for women who have very dense breasts. Also, some breast cancer can disguise itself as normal breast tissue on mammography.
For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.