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Mammography is a type of medical imaging that uses x-rays to capture images (mammograms) of the internal structures of the breasts. Quality mammography can help detect breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages – when it is too small to be felt or detected by any other method.
The two types of imaging currently used for mammography are
Mammography uses x-rays to produce an image of the breast, and the patient is exposed to a small dose of radiation. The Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA) established baseline standards for radiation dose, personnel, equipment, and image quality.
The benefits of mammography in detecting breast cancer at an early stage outweigh the risks of radiation exposure. In some cases, early detection of a breast lump may mean that chemotherapy is unnecessary.
For extensive information for mammography facility personnel, inspectors, and consumers about the implementation of the Mammography Quality Standards Act of 1992 (MQSA), see Mammography.
Also available is a CDRH handbook containing reference values of radiation doses absorbed in breast glandular tissue of patients undergoing mammography.
Updated January 12, 2007
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Center for Devices and Radiological Health / CDRH