Mammography is an X-ray that may show changes in the breast(s) before they can be found by a woman during her self-breast exam or by her healthcare provider.
There are two types of mammograms: screening mammograms and diagnostic mammograms. Screening mammograms are used for preventative purposes. Diagnostic mammograms are used for women who are facing an identified issue and therefore require further diagnosis, which may include additional images and or an Ultrasound. A needle aspiration or biopsy (sample of tissue is removed from the lump) may also be required.
For added peace of mind, Geisinger uses a computer aided detection (CAD) system to identify suspicious features that may warrant a second review by radiologists. CAD is a sophisticated technology that assists radiologists in interpreting mammograms by digitizing the image and analyzing areas on the mammogram that may contain features associated with cancer. Functioning like a "spellchecker" for medical images, the computer identifies and marks two types of abnormalities:
- Micro-calcifications, which are clusters of bright, white specks (denoted by a triangle on the screen)
- Spiculations, which are dense regions of radiating lines indicating a mass that may suggest the presence of cancer (denoted by an asterisk on the screen)
Once the computer marks these areas, the radiologist can focus on them and further analyze spots that may be suspicious. Digital mammography is available at many of our imaging sites.