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STUDY: Busiest radiologists--those who had evaluated the most mammograms--did not necessarily do the best job at identifying signs of breast cancer.
JOURNAL: Journal of the National Institute of Cancer 2003;95:250-252.
AUTHORS: Dr. Craig A. Beam
ABSTRACT: Conflicting information on what factors determine radiologists' accuracy in reading mammograms may have some women wondering what they can do to ensure a correct diagnosis.
COMMENTARY: There are a number of steps women can take to boost the accuracy of the breast cancer screening test.
First and foremost, women should attempt to go to the same breast cancer screening clinic year after year.
If that is not possible, women should obtain the X-rays from their previous mammograms for comparison sake.
For younger women, they should avoid getting a mammogram while they are menstruating because the breast tissue undergoes changes during this time that can affect mammogram accuracy.
Younger women are better off scheduling mammograms during the follicular phase of their cycle--the first and second week after the first day of their period.
It is also important to stay as still as possible during a mammogram.
Women need to be warned that when getting a mammogram, it can hurt...but despite the unpleasantness they need to hold really, really still to avoid motion artifacts on the X-ray.
Plus, the more the breast is compressed the better the image and the less radiation required.
Older women who are taking hormone replacement therapy should be aware that the treatment may reduce the accuracy of mammography by increasing breast density.