Dr. Alice Chung provides a description of mammogram testing and shares when women should start screening for breast cancer.
Mammogram is currently the recommended screening tool that we use to screen for breast cancer. It is recommended by the NCCN to begin annual screening at the age of 40, although nowadays people are doing baseline mammograms in their late 30s, but annual mammogram certainly is for the average woman, should start at the age of 40.
Basically, it is an x-ray that is taken with the breast in compression. The breast is placed, you know, between two x-ray plates, and it’s taken in two views–one from the side and one from above. The point of the mammogram is to try to pick up any kind of abnormality that may suggest a cancer, and if you do the screening annually, the hope is that you would catch something early enough before it becomes something that’s not curable.
There are different types of mammograms. The traditional mammogram is the film screen mammography or analog mammography, and that’s something that has been used, you know, since the beginning of mammography, and now there are some newer techniques such as digital mammography that is kind of taking over.
The difference between the two is kind of like the difference between film camera and a digital camera. So for example, film screen mammograms take pictures like a regular camera would take a picture; the images are stored on film. With a digital mammogram, the images are stored on a computer, sort of like a digital camera would do. The nice thing about the digital mammography is that you can use computer software to manipulate your image so you can make it bigger or smaller or brighter or more clear in certain areas, whereas with the film screen mammography, you can’t do that. So that is an advantage of digital mammography, and in addition, the films are all stored on the computer so, it’s not papers and films like you would have with the old, traditional way of doing mammography.
About Dr. Alice Chung, M.D.:
Using her expertise as a member of the American Society of Breast Disease and the Society of Surgical Oncology, Chung has performed numerous surgeries, authored countless studies on the field of breast surgery and presented on such diverse topics as nutrition, imaging and metastases. Highly skilled at sparing mastectomies and other surgical procedures related to breast cancer surgery, Chung has dedicated her practice to helping women everywhere.