Mammography: X-ray and Breast Tissue Essay

1676 Words Aug 12th, 2008 7 Pages
Mammography

Breast cancer is a common malignancy diagnosed in women. In the United States one in eight women who live to the age of 95 will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Even with the high rate of diagnosis, it remains the most treatable due to early screening and improved detection methods. Mammography is the precedent for screening and diagnostic procedures in the breast cancer field. Its enhancements through the years, together with higher resolution, faster, lower-dose screen-film combinations, have contributed to earlier cancer detection in women.
Dr. Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen discovered x-rays while working with a Crookes tube in his laboratory on November 8, 1895. Eighteen years later mammography got its rudimentary
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Digital mammography has given the physicians the capability to adjust contrast, transmit images, and to magnify suspicious areas of the breast. This technology has also given the radiologist the capacity to digitally mark areas of concern directly onto the digitalized image which is conveniently stored on the computer for easy retrieval for the next mammogram for comparison.
A mammography unit is a rectangular box that houses a vacuum tube in which x-rays are produced. The unit is designed to rotate to optimally image all angles of the breast tissues. These units are integrated with a compression device that firmly holds the breast in place. This act of flattening the breast is extremely important to improve optical density, contrast, and spatial resolution and lower the patient’s radiation dose. Most importantly, to ensure that small abnormalities won’t be covered by overlying breast tissue. In routine screening procedures, each breast should be screened using the craniocaudal (CC) and mediolateral oblique (MLO) projections; however, there are 13 projections that can be performed. Once the breast is positioned, a low dose of ionizing radiation is sent through the tissue from the vacuum tube to produce black and white images of the tissue on x-ray film. Different parts of the body absorb the x-rays in varying degrees. Bone absorbs much of the radiation while
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