Mammography can reveal a tumor in the preclinical phase before it is palpable. The examination renders three-dimensional structures in two dimensions.
Mammography is highly sensitive for revealing tumors in women with normal tissue density or parenchyma atrophy. However, the tumor may in rare cases be missed due to uncharacteristic appearance and growth pattern.
In women with dense tissue structure (abundant fibroglandular tissue/fibroadenomatosis), the sensitivity is lower.
Even if multiple projections are used with good compression, over projection of normal tissue can cause diagnostic difficulties. Ultrasound examinations (ultrasonography) are today a very important supplement to mammography. In very young women, with a probably benign palpable tumor, ultrasound may replace mammography as a primary examination.
- Symptoms due to malignant disease or an infectious condition
- Increased breast cancer risk
- Woman selected through the mammography screening program
In young women, mammography should only be performed for strict indications, for example cancer suspicion or for hereditary cancer risk.