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ARMC recommends mammograms without thyroid shield

Submitted by Phil Heimerl on July 31, 2013 – 12:10 amNo Comment


Recently, a syndicated television show host has unjustly advised women to wear a thyroid shield while receiving a mammogram due to concerns that the small amount of radiation a patient receives from a mammogram may significantly increase the likelihood of developing thyroid cancer.

However, this is simply not supported in scientific literature.

The radiation dose to the thyroid from a mammogram is extremely low. The thyroid is not exposed to the direct X-ray beam used to image the breast and receives only a tiny amount of scattered X-rays (less than 0.005 milligray). This is equivalent to only 30 minutes of natural background radiation received by all Americans from natural sources.

For annual screening mammograms from women ages 40 –  80, the cancer risk from this tiny amount of radiation scattered to the thyroid is incredibly small (less than 1 in 17.1 million women screened). This minute risk should be balanced with the fact that using a thyroid shield could interfere with optimal positioning and could result in shadows appearing on the mammography image. Both of these factors could reduce the quality of the image and interfere with diagnosis.

Therefore, Alpena Regional Medical Center Radiologists do not recommend using a thyroid shield during an annual mammogram. Thyroid shields are available at ARMC if patients still want to wear them with the understanding that it may interfere with the image and may require a repeat mammogram (which increases the radiation exposure.) Women should continue to receiving their annual screening mammograms.

ARMC is leading the area in the fight against breast cancer by providing complete imaging, intervention and treatment for breast cancer. Our Breast Health Program includes full-field digital mammography, including the Mobile Mammography Unit, stereotactic breast biopsy, ultrasound and MRI guided biopsy, breast ultrasound, breast MRI, and CAD (computer aided detection). With this imaging and interventional techniques, a major leap forward is being taken toward the early and minimally invasive detection of breast cancer. To schedule your full-field digital mammogram call (989) 356-8001.

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