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Insights Imaging. 2012 Feb;3(1):7-10. doi: 10.1007/s13244-011-0127-y. Epub 2011 Oct 28.

Mammography: EUSOBI recommendations for women's information.

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Dipartimento di Scienze Medico-Chirurgiche, Università degli Studi di Milano, Unità di Radiologia, IRCCS Policlinico San Donato, Piazza Edmondo Malan 2, 20097, San Donato Milanese, Italy,


This paper summarises the basic information to be offered to women who undergo mammography. After a delineation of the general aim of early diagnosis of breast cancer, the main difference between screening mammography and diagnostic mammography is explained. The best time for scheduling mammography in fertile women is defined. The need to bring images and reports from the previous mammogram (and from other recent breast imaging examinations) is highlighted. The technique and procedure of mammography are briefly described with particular attention to discomfort and pain experienced by a fraction of women who undergo the test. Information is given on the recall during a screening program and on the request for further work-up after a diagnostic mammography. The logic of the diagnostic mammography report and of classification systems such as BI-RADS and R1-R5 is illustrated, and brief but clear information is given about the diagnostic performance of the test, with particular reference to interval cancers. Moreover, the breast cancer risk due to radiation exposure from mammography is compared to the reduction in mortality obtained with the test, and the concept of overdiagnosis is presented. Finally, five frequently asked questions are answered.

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