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Radiation Dose and Safety Issues in Mammography

Marlene Johnson, MEd, RT(R)

*Education Director - Department of Radiology, University of Utah Health Care, Cottonwood Heights, Utah (Retired); Medical Writer.

Address correspondence to: Marlene Johnson: Mj2216@me.com.

Disclosure Statement: Ms Johnson reports having no financial or advisory relationships with corporate organizations related to this activity.


New breast imaging technology has emerged into clinical practice since 2011, including full-field digital mammography, digital breast tomosynthesis, breast computerized tomography, and 2-dimensional synthetic imaging. New breast cancer screening guidelines were released by the American Cancer Society in 2015, which may leave many practitioners and patients confused. Radiation exposure to a patient can be expressed in many different ways including via skin or entrance dose, absorbed dose, mean glandular dose, and bone marrow dose. For breast imaging, it is important to understand which method of measuring and recording radiation dose to the breast is most often utilized and the rationalization behind it. Radiation exposure to the breast remains a concern and may be confusing when considering the various breast imaging technologies available today. One must understand the value of a technique before a decision regarding risk and benefit can be made. This activity will explore new breast imaging techniques and discuss radiation dose with each techniques. A brief discussion of breast density and how it affects breast cancer diagnosis and risk assessment is also included.

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