Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer among women in the United States, and the second leading cause of cancer-related mortality. Breast cancer screening examinations using film-screen mammography (FSM) imaging reduce mortality due to breast cancer but are associated with potential limitations, including a high false-positive rate, restricted image contrast, image artifacts, and low sensitivity for the detection of tumors in higher-density breast tissue. Over the last decade, digital mammography has replaced conventional FSM in many imaging facilities. Full-field digital mammography offers several potential advantages in cancer screening and diagnosis, including greater dynamic range, better contrast resolution, greater detection of cancers in certain patient populations, and improved imaging workflow. Digital mammography also makes it possible to perform many advanced post image acquisition techniques, including computer-aided detection, contrast-enhanced mammography, and breast tomosynthesis. Imaging standards established by the US Mammography Quality Standards Act, as well as guidelines from the US Food and Drug Administration, American College of Radiology, and other societies, have provided considerable guidance for mammography technologists to follow to ensure imaging quality. These standards and guidelines make specific recommendations about image acquisition, display, and storage.
After reading this article, the participant should be able to:
- Summarize the benefits and risk of screening mammography.
- List potential advantages of digital mammography and the patient populations who are most likely to benefit.
- Describe the digital mammography process, including image acquisition, display, and storage.
- Identify practice guidelines and standards that are important in ensuring image quality.