[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
October 20, 1978

Mammography in Medical Practice: A Rational Approach

Author Affiliations

From the Breast Cancer Detection Center, Department of Radiology, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati.

JAMA. 1978;240(17):1898-1899. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290170080040

REDUCED-DOSE mammography is an important adjunctive clinical tool for detecting and diagnosing small breast cancers. Mammography, aggressively used, will increase the detection of minimal breast cancers substantially. On the other hand, improperly used mammography may add unnecessarily to the patient's body burden of radiation and delay diagnosis of palpable masses.

How can we avoid adding unnecessarily to the patient's body burden of radiation? Basically, this can be accomplished by (1) controlling the radiation dose and (2) selecting appropriate patients for mammographic examination.

Today the average annual dose absorbed in the midbreast for two-view mammography can be reduced to 1 rad or less. At this level, lifetime annual mammography of a 35-year-old woman could possibly increase her risk of cancer from an expected spontaneous risk of 8% to a total risk of 8.3%. This risk estimate is based on extrapolation from high-dose data,1,2 and there is a distinct statistical possibility