UW Health's radiology services in Madison, Wisconsin offer a wide variety of breast imaging services, including screening mammography.
When is screening mammography used?
Screening mammography is performed on women who have no sign or symptom of breast cancer. It can detect many cancers at their earliest stage. In fact, 40 percent of breast cancers that are detected by screening mammography are "in situ," meaning they are at the earliest stage, and are not invading through the ducts of the breast.
The size of a cancer and how far it has spread are key predictors of health outcome from the disease. When disease is localized in the breast, survival is greater than 90 percent. Detection of breast cancer using screening mammography therefore helps detect breast cancer at its earliest stage and is crucial to the goal of curing breast cancer.
The majority of screening mammograms are normal and do not require additional testing. However, after a screening mammogram, about 10 percent of patients will have to return to the mammography facility for additional testing, which may include more mammography images, breast ultrasound, biopsy, or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) of the breast.
Even when a potential abnormality is detected on a screening mammogram, the additional imaging that is performed when the patient returns will often show that the area in question on the screening mammogram is normal or represents noncancerous changes.