|Mammography is the most sensitive method for the detection of breast cancer. Mammography is used for two purposes.
Screening mammography is a radiological examination used to detect unsuspected breast cancer at an early stage in asymptomatic women. A mammogram may scheduled during a routine exam, an annual exam, or mammography in conjunction with an annual or complete physical exam, or if she has a fibrocystic condition or fibrocystic changes.
Diagnostic mammography (problem solving mammography) is a radiological examination used to evaluate a patient with a breast mass, other breast signs or symptoms (bloody discharge from the nipple, pain, dimpling of the breast, a history of breast cancer, etc.), an abnormal or questionable screening mammogram, an implant, or reconstructed breasts.
Mammography screening does not supplant breast self-examination and clinical breast examination; they are complementary screening modalities. In populations where mammography is not available, or is not appropriate as a screening modality, clinical breast exam and breast self-exam are particularly important.
STANDARDS ACT (MQSA)
Newspaper headlines remind us that poor quality mammography is a real problem. They illustrate the need to assure the public that the equipment used is especially designed for mammography and properly maintained. To meet the urgent need for uniform mammography standards in the United States, Congress recently enacted the MQSA. The responsibility for administering MQSA was given to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Because mammography is one of the more technically challenging radiological procedures, mandatory, consistent standards for personnel training, quality assurance and control of facilities and equipment was considered necessary.
Calibrated ion chambers, phantoms, and pennies are but a few of the types of equipment used in performing the specialized inspection. Laptop computers, provided by the FDA, allow inspectors to enter data and print the results of the inspection for the facility immediately following the inspection. The inspection report is then forwarded to the FDA in Washington, D.C., via modem. This innovative approach allows the facility to immediately incorporate the inspector's findings into their procedures, as well as eliminate the document process and travel time.
BREAST SELF EXAMINATION
It is estimated that 1woman in 8 will have breast cancer during her lifetime, and about 1 in 33 will die from breast cancer. Breast cancer screening is frequently not carried out in elderly women. Many elderly women have the misconception that breast cancer is a disease of younger women. For this reason, and probably because clinical breast examination is carried out less frequently in older women, there is a tendency for breast cancers to be diagnosed at a more advanced stage in elderly women than in younger women.
There are many good reasons for doing a breast self-exam each month. One reason is that it is easy to do and the more you do it, the better you will get at it. When you get to know how your breasts normally feel, you will quickly be able to feel any change, and early detection is the key to successful treatment and cure. The best time to do BSE is right after your period, when breasts are not tender or swollen. If you do not have regular periods or sometimes skip a month, do it on the same day every month.
A breast self-examination could save your breast -and save your life. Most breast lumps are found by women themselves, but, in fact, most lumps in the breast are not cancer. Be safe, be sure -perform a breast self-examination every month.