Breast cancer is the most frequent malignant tumour in women.
The number of cases of breast cancer has increased by more than 20% in the last 25 years with more than 58,000 new cases every year in Germany. No other type of cancer has spread that drastically during the last years. The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the greater the chances of healing.
Therefore, the German Bundestag [Lower House of the Parliament] has decided the implementation of a nationwide quality-assured mammography screening programme for women aged between 50 and 69. This means that, based on official registration data, all women of this group of age are invited to have a mammography performed free of charge every two years.
Mammography screening complements palpation findings, since tiny tumours that are not palpable yet are visualised by means of digital images.
The screening practices are selected carefully and are certified. Among other things, the quality of the programme is assured by:
- the requirement of a minimum number of examinations for the physicians involved (5,000 women per year)
- an obligatory evaluation by two physicians
- the separation of diagnosis (by the radiologist) and treatment (by the attending physician, e.g. gynaecologist, surgeon)
- regular further training and examination of the radiologists by reference centres
Our practice realises the mammographies for the Heidelberg / Neckar-Odenwald area in the context of this programme.
- Hier fehlt die Gerätebezeichnung
How is the examination realised?
The patient is standing in front of the examination system during mammography. The medical-technical X-ray assistant discusses the procedure with the woman. She is to determine herself the extent of pressure on her breast. Then, the breast is carefully compressed using a plate of acrylic glass. Before the pressure gets too high, the device stops and the image is taken. The pressure is released automatically immediately afterwards.
It is important to know that compression is important for good image quality. Moreover, the radiation dose is clearly lower for a compressed breast.
Two images are taken: one from top to bottom and one lateral-oblique image. Then, the images are postprocessed and transmitted to the evaluation site. This takes a few minutes. The physician then discusses the result with the patient. If necessary, additional examinations will be arranged for, e.g. ultrasound examination of the breast.
Preparation for the examination
A mammography should be realised during the first half of the cycle, about 1 week after menstruation. The glandular tissue is a bit softened during this stage so that, on the one hand, image quality is improved and, on the other hand, the breast is less sensitive to pressure.
Please do not use any cream or powder!
If a mammography has already been carried out in the past, you should bring the images with you. Since mammography is an X-ray examination, pregnancy should be excluded.