Screening Test: Mammogram, Essay Example

Mammograms are x-rays of the human breast conducted as a preventative screening diagnostic test attempting to prevent development of breast cancer. These screenings check the breast for cancerous lumps even before any symptoms appear. ‘Many false-negatives; false-positive results, over diagnosis, overtreatment, and radiation exposure’ (Gøtzsche & Nielsen, 2011, p, 21) can occur due to the testing. However, it is recommended that women over 40 years of age have this test done once or twice yearly (Gøtzsche & Nielsen, 2011).

During mammograms various doses of ionizing radiation are used in creating images. After pictures are taken radiologists evaluate these images checking them for abnormal readings. Usually, lower-energy X-rays (typically Mo-K) are used as against those applied to bone screening. Associated screening mechanisms to mammogram are Ultrasound, ductography, ultrasound; (magnetic resonance imaging) MRI and positron emission mammography (PEM). Ultrasound is applied during mammogram tests when further intense screening becomes obvious. They are used to evaluate masses which may have been missed in mammograms. Ductograms continue to be used alongside mammograms to evaluate bloody nipple discharges (Marquis  & Huston, 2011).

The procedure entails compression of the breast applying a dedicated mammography unit. Parallel-plate compression then aligns breast tissue thickness to improve the image’s quality through decreasing the tissue thickness enabling x-rays’ penetration. Subsequently, the number of scattered radiation is reduced and the radiation dose is also decreased while still holding the breast to prevent motion blur. As such, ‘both head-to-foot (craniocaudal, CC) view and angled side-view (mediolateral oblique, MLO)’ (Reynolds, 2012, p 24)   images of the breast can be photographed


Gøtzsche PC, Nielsen M. Screening for breast cancer with mammography. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (1): 2011: CD001877. Print Marquis, B. L. & Huston, C. J.  Leadership Roles and Management Functions in Nursing. Theory and application. (7th ed.) Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkin. 2011. Print

Reynolds, Handel. The Big Squeeze: A Social and Political History of the Controversial Mammogram. ILR Press/Cornell University Press. 2012. Print